Construction causes chaos

Debris and rocks cause damage to the pot plants.

Demolition work at an Observatory construction site is upsetting neighbours who say drilling happens without warning and pelts their properties with dust and debris.

A four-storey backpackers’ lodge is being built at 289 Lower Main Road, but residents of nearby Arnold Street have complained about the demolition of a wall left from the cab-company building that used to be on the site.

The developer and owner of the property is Ebrahima Abader. The architect and principal agent is Two Five Five Architects. The demolition work is being done by an independent contractor, DAL Building Marketing.

Arnold Street resident Johannes Horstmann said drilling on the wall had started over three weeks ago, on Monday March 25.

A video he sent to the Tatler shows a labourer drilling on top of a 5-to-6m-high wall with debris and rubble falling into his property.

Mr Horstmann complained that the drilling, which he said he had not be notified about, had caused R4000 damage to his garden pots and littered his garden with stones.

“There were stones around the garden, plants got damaged, stones were on plants and the workers did not take safety precautions,” he said.

In the video, the labourer with the drill is not wearing a harness or safety gear to stop him falling.

Mr Horstmann said he had raised the issue with Two Five Five Architects and they had put up nets to screen the Arnold Street properties from debris.

But Mr Horstmann said the nets had been removed after a day and the drilling had continued.

Andre Krige, the director of Two Five Five Architects, said that “within hours” of being alerted to the debris problem, the developer had “brought it to the attention of the demolitions contractor”.

He added: “We investigated the site with the council building inspector following the complaint and instructed the demolitions contractor to review his health and safety as a matter of urgency.”

Mr Krige said municipal health and safety officers had been satisfied with the way the work was being done, but the netting had been added as extra protection.

The incident had been an isolated one, said Mr Krige.

The Tatler phoned a number we found on a bakkie bearing DAL’s branding, requesting comment. A woman we spoke to refused to identify herself and said she did not want to comment.

She also refused to put the Tatler in touch with anyone else at the company.

Mr Abader said the neighbours had resisted the demolition of the wall and had denied DAL access to their properties to set up safety nets.

“The building inspector informed neighbours that it’s within their right to demolish the wall. They then allowed access,” he said.

Mr Abader said some neighbours had illegal structures built against the wall. And he said DAL had told him that one of the neighbours had turned his water hose on their workers.

The Observatory Civic Association’s Leslie London said construction work should heed the privacy and safety of residents, and the municipality had a duty to enforce building regulations that prohibited demolition that generated “hazardous amounts of dust and debris”.

Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayco member for spatial planning and environment, said the City had not had any complaints about the construction site, but a building inspector would go out to check on it.