Joburg set to act on run-down buildings
Johannesburg has launched yet another programme to rid the inner city of dilapidated buildings by 2010.
Nkosinathi Mthethwa, the city's regional director, has criticised the municipality's past "sluggish and uncoordinated response" to the growing problem of run-down buildings in the inner city.
He said the city's urban renewal plan had dealt with the symptoms of the problem - but not the root causes.
"In the past, criminals would simply move to another building when the city kicked them out of one that was to be renovated."
Mthethwa said the municipality would ensure that building hijackers were arrested and "would hold landlords accountable" for the state of their buildings.
Johannesburg's new programme will concentrate redevelopment efforts on buildings that have been hijacked, are in advanced disrepair, have been abandoned by faceless landlords, do not comply with legal requirements or city bylaws, and those that the police have targeted as criminal havens.
More than 100 of these structures are on the list of dilapidated buildings that are being prioritised for redevelopment.
"At least eight out-of-court agreements have been signed with slum landlords that they will repair their buildings to acceptable standards," Mthethwa said.
He said police investigations were at an advanced stage in 12 cases and that hijackers and criminals operating from inner city buildings would soon be arrested and charged.
But Trevor Bailey, chairperson of the Gauteng Rental Housing Tribunal, and Brian Miller, chairperson of the Johannesburg Property Owners and Managers Association, said the hijacking of buildings remained a serious problem in central Johannesburg.
"If a building has been hijacked there is not a clear policy on how to deal with that," Bailey said.
Miller said: "The city's systems do not work because you cannot get clearance to take over an abandoned building fast enough."