‘Unsafe’ scaffolding

Cascade Courts outer stairs are being replaced.

Cascade Court residents in Hanover Park fear scaffolding used as temporary stairs outside their block does not meet safety regulations.

A contractor is replacing all the concrete stairs.

Residents complain of flimsy boards being used to close gaps between the scaffold and the building, huge gaps in the scaffold railing that children can fall through, and missing stabilising bars at the bottom of the 10 metre-high scaffolds.

Resident Julian Collins said the scaffold did not have a firm base and could not bear a heavy load on top.

“This is a big concern. It’s a safety hazard,” he said.

He said the contractor had let the old concrete stairs “free fall” during the demolition, sending shudders through the building that could later cause cracks that might not be visible immediately.

“It felt like the entire building was about to collapse,” he said.

Isaac Brady showed the Athlone News thin wooden boards he said were used to bridge gaps between the scaffolding and residents’ front doors.

Some of the bolts fastening the new stairs to the building appear to be skew.

Mr Collins wants other residents to sign a petition calling for problems to be fixed.

“Six years ago, with the first renovations to the flats, I asked the ward councillor what the report was on the integrity of the flats, in particular, the one I stay in.
“I asked about the weight capacity this structure can carry. I pointed out how the flats of Hanover Park are overcrowded because of big families in each flat. That, coupled with the missing bricks in the walls because of the age of the building and the holes people drill in walls to hang pictures, for example, could culminate in a possible collapse.

“Yet in each unit, they installed a huge geyser on the middle and top floors which, when at full capacity, weighs up to 400kg. All this is cause for concern.

“I was told that there is nothing to worry about and that the flats are habitable,” Mr Collins said.

Eileen Johnson said that since the first upgrade six years ago, water had been seeping through the wall just above her kitchen and bathroom windows.

“I have complained so many times when we moved back into the flats after the renovations, but every time I was given a different story. At one stage, I was told that they will only come to fix the problem if many people complain about it.

“I eventually just got fed up, and my family and I are now forced to live like this. The paint on my walls keeps cracking because the bricks are water-logged,” Ms Johnson said.

The Athlone News sent a list of questions to the City of Cape Town on Friday morning last week, asking where residents can turn if they feel their concerns are not being heard; who checks the work of the contractor, and whether this is done while construction is in progress or after it has been completed. The email also questioned why construction is happening during the rainy season and what will be done to ensure the safety of the scaffolding.

The City did not respond to those questions by the time of going to print.