There are over 500 problem buildings in City of Joburg – Mashaba

About 500 problem buildings have been identified in the City of Johannesburg, mayor Herman Mashaba said on Thursday.

Speaking to the SABC shortly after the extinguishing of an inferno at the Bank of Lisbon building which saw three firefighters killed in the line of duty, Mashaba said the city would “carry out raids so that we take back the city”.

“Where we cannot find the owners, we must expropriate these buildings. Where we can find them, we will put them on terms so that they can renovate these buildings so they meet our safety and health standards.”

The fire in the Bank of Lisbon building - which housed the Gauteng departments of health, human settlements, and cooperative government and traditional affairs - broke out on the 23rd floor on Wednesday.

A forensic team is expected to assess the damage on Thursday to investigate how the fire started, while structural engineers will assess the building’s credibility.

On Wednesday, Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo said his department had commissioned an assessment of various buildings around the city in 2017 for occupational health and safety.

READ: Mamabolo prepared to 'take the fall' for Joburg fire if a probe finds him guilty

The report which was presented on August 27, 2018, had revealed that the Bank of Lisbon building was only 21% compliant with occupational health and safety standards, against the norm of 85%.

Mashaba said the City had “acquired” a number of buildings over the years and had been appealing to the private sector to help turn these buildings into affordable accommodation, student accommodation and commercial spaces because both the City and government “don’t have the money”.

“It can’t be a jungle where people have been complaining about health and safety measures over some time about buildings [like this one]. If it happens with government-owned buildings, what about hundreds of buildings in the inner city that are hijacked, where you see children being brought up in totally unacceptable living conditions?”

Meanwhile, the ANC in Gauteng has called for the immediate implementation of the recommendations contained in the report on the state of government buildings which pointed out non-compliance issues at some government buildings related to occupational health and safety, it said in a statement.

“The safety of employees must be prioritised as this ultimately has a ripple effect on service delivery,” provincial secretary Jacob Khawe said.