Row over remaining asbestos roofing hazard in eThekwini townships
DURBAN – The remaining asbestos roofs in the eThekwini townships have sparked a stir amid allegations that some communities were still left in the dangerous habitat.
Although the old roof system was officially discontinued for health reasons, the government could not afford to replace all asbestos roofs in the province, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Human Settlements said.
Asked to comment on ActionSA’s concerns about the persistence of asbestos roofs over the heads of many families, particularly in eThekwini Division 47, department spokesman Mbulelo Baloyi agreed that the asbestos was considered a health hazard .
The government’s stance, he said, was that poor communities would be helped with alternative forms of roofing, but this intervention was only done in cases of rectification of poorly constructed houses.
“The government cannot afford a large scale replacement of all the asbestos roofs dotted with the many townships in the province (from Margate on the south coast to the townships of eThekwini, eSikhaleni and Ngwelezane in Richards Bay, Ulundi, Nongoma in Zululand and Newcastle and Ladysmith). to the west). But where there is a need to rectify a building, the government can help rebuild it with an alternative form of roof type other than asbestos,” Baloyi said.
Such rectification programs would occur in cases where the National Home Builders Registration Council, a regulatory body of the department, has identified poor or substandard workmanship in a housing project (in terms of the Home Building Manual).
“When houses are rebuilt, an old asbestos roof is replaced with a different kind of material,” Baloyi said.
ActionSA said it would write to the South African Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Public Protector to highlight ongoing concerns about residents’ exposure to asbestos-containing structures in Ward 47.
The party slammed the mayor of eThekwini, Mxolisi Kaunda, for claiming not to respond to the concerns brought to his attention.
“ActionSA previously gave Mayor Kaunda seven days to respond to community calls for help regarding the dangers of the substance in their community. Within ward 47, several houses still contain asbestos in their structures, the sale and distribution of which was banned in South Africa in 2008,” said party chairman Dr Makhosi Khoza.
“Asbestos causes cancer and leads to respiratory diseases. The Department of Human Settlement in eThekwini should have addressed this situation long ago – for the sake of the health and dignity of the residents of Department 47. Most recently, Mayor Kaunda has opted to stop all efforts to involve him in this life-threatening issue. ignore,” Khoza said.
Kaunda’s spokesman, Mluleki Mntungwa, said Ward 47 (which includes parts of KwaMashu and Bester townships) was one of many areas that benefited from the city-wide “rectification” program.
“There were criteria, steps and processes that were followed in terms of this program,” Mntungwa said.