City roof project halted

Block LL was meant to receive a new fire retardant metal roof, but the installation was stopped after some residents questioned the approach of the contractors.

Contractors have given up on trying to restore a roof on a block of flats in Hangberg, much to the dismay of residents.

Block LL in Salamander Road was to have had its old asbestos sheeting replaced with metal roofing material treated with fire retardant, but a handful of residents refused to let City contractors on site, according to ward councillor Roberto Quintas

“The City will be left with no choice but to reallocate this project elsewhere,” he said.

“Due to the refusal by two tenants to co-operate with the City, the rest of the tenants will not receive a new roof on the block.”

Last week, the City started roof-maintenance on several blocks of council flats in Hangberg.

“The self-same grouping who intimidated and harassed the contractor into leaving the site and abandoning the roof upgrades, will be the self-same group who will later accuse the City of not performing on its mandate to deliver services,” Mr Quintas said.

Residents who spoke to the Sentinel didn’t want their names used, fearing intimidation, but signs of dismay were clear.

“We all have to suffer due to the actions of a very small group of people who feel as if they speak on behalf of the entire Hout Bay,” said one resident.

“This was meant for us to live better, and we now are without it. I hope these fools that are costing us are happy now.”

A resident who only gave his name as Eddy said better communication was needed between the residents and contractors, but the roofs needed changing.

“We needed to replace these roofs and especially now with winter around the corner. We have to try and work together in order for us to make this a better place, but you see, there are people here that take matters into their own hands and then turn around and say they are doing it for us. It’s not fair at all.”

Several residents living in the neighbouring block of flats were relieved to see their new roofs going up and were happy with the outcome.

But community activist and Hangberg resident, Roscoe Jacobs, denied that contractors had been “threatened” and “harassed”. They had merely been questioned about the renovations, he said.

Mr Jacobs said he had asked the contractors what materials they were using because one of the blocks had suffered a fire last Christmas and the roof had burnt.

“They are trying to use the same materials which caused that fire on that day and we are saying that better materials are needed in order for this upgrade to happen,” he said.

He said he had also wanted to know whether local labour was being used, so that Hangberg’s unemployed could benefit from work opportunities.

“What is being said about our approach is not true. The contractor was never harassed or threatened, and we just wanted the necessary answers. There is no point in replacing the roof with something that caused so much damage previously,” he said.

But Mr Quintas said fire-retardant materials were being used for the roof repairs.

The Sentinel News saw the email in which the contractor complained to Mr Quintas about a hostile situation around Block LL and their intentions to walk away from the project.

“It is unfortunate that once again, malcontents within the community have stopped the City from carrying out its duty to improve the lives of its residents. My fear will be that the decision to avoid wasteful expenditure due to standing time, may see the budget allocated for Hangberg moved to another Cape Town community who will then benefit,” Mr Quintas said.

Two weeks ago, another attempt to get residents living at the Hangberg Improvement Development Area (HIDA) connected to electricity was halted as City workers were chased away by a few disgruntled residents and the project was unable to be rolled out (“Electricity woes continue for HIDA,” Sentinel News, March 13, 2020).

Mr Quintas said residents stood to benefit from new roofing and improved safety and should support the contractor.

Mr Quintas said the contractors had since moved to work on another block, leaving Block LL, and would return to complete renovations once the nationwide lockdown had ended.