The African National Congress (ANC) says the recent suspension of the City of Johannesburg’s building control officer (BCO) has brought construction in the metropolitan to a halt.
The official was recently suspended on grounds of alleged misconduct, pending an investigation into a list of allegations. These allegations include irregularities in the issuing of notices to developers, resulting in developments taking place without approved plans creating a law-enforcement burden for the City, and loss of revenue.
Another allegation is that the official failed to implement a geoscience report which pre-empted the possible collapse of houses in both Lenasia and Protea.
ANC councillor and former MMC for Development Planning, Ruby Mathang, said the effect of this ignorance is having dire consequences on the local economy. “Mashaba’s administration flouted national legislation in suspending the BCO then appointing an acting BCO without the approval of Council. In effect, the suspension of the BCO and the appointment of an acting BCO were both legally incompetent decisions leaving the City without a BCO,” he said.
Because the approval of building plans can only be taken on the recommendation of the building control officer, Mathang said, the municipality cannot recommend the approval or decline of building plans, building inspectors cannot go on site and inspect construction to ascertain that it is per approved plans, and they cannot issue notices against illegal construction or deviation from approved plans.
Mathang also said the ANC caucus has been informed that all approvals that were granted after the suspension of the building control officer have been recalled. “Many developers are up in arms – they are on site with approved plans or provisional approvals from the municipality, and have now been informed that the approvals have been withdrawn.
“This means that they have to stop construction immediately, yet the City is unable to give any details of when it will be able to resolve this mess. Developers now have to carry the cost of labour and a plant standing still on site, or ignore the instructions and carry on building. To many law-abiding developers, the latter is not appealing – so they have to contend with financial ruin.”
But the mayor said the ANC’s insistence on delaying the deliberation of this matter ‘will only serve to harm the best interests of our residents and frustrate development in the City’. Mashaba said the ANC had threatened to walk out of council on 4 May if the deliberation on the appointment of a temporary building control officer continued.
“This is the second instance where the City has attempted to table this urgent report before Council for deliberation,” the mayor said.
A special council meeting was set for Tuesday, 8 May, to address the matter.