Mayor launches drive for action on derelict blocks

Plan for new municipal by-law to be in place by March

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality started its inspections of derelict buildings in Port Elizabeth’s inner city yesterday as part of the metro’s plans to formulate a problem-buildings by-law.

Mayor Athol Trollip, human settlements political head Nqaba Bhanga and municipal officials plan to conduct ad-hoc inspections until the city finalises, and the council passes, the by-law in March.

Yesterday, they visited the old Sunnyside Hotel building in Bird Street, Central, where they found a dilapidated structure that had become a hub for crime.

While officials found workers cleaning the building when they arrived at about 1pm, it was evident that vagrants stayed there.

Clothing, blankets, baby formula tins, pots and cutlery were found inside the building.

While Trollip addressed the media outside, a few people entered the building to fetch their blankets and bags.

They refused to be interviewed.

Trollip said Sunnyside was an example of buildings which were abandoned by owners and were in contravention of the National Building Regulations Act.

“The building is actually a definition of a problem building,” he said.

“It is not only an eyesore in the middle of town, but there are people living here with no sanitation and no water.”

“They live in unhygienic conditions.”

Trollip said the “cosmetic cleanup” would not help as vagrants would return by nightfall. He said by passing a by-law, the city would expand the national legislation.

“We want broader powers because the national legislation is prescriptive on the safety of the building. “This building is solid, it is not going to fall down. But it is a problem building because it is occupied by people living under the radar of the law,” Trollip said.

He said by the end of March next year, the city would pass a problem building by-law.

Bhanga said they had found drugs during an inspection with police at a building in Western Road.

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