ETHEKWINI NEWSFLASH
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
23 AUGUST 2023

CITY TO DEMOLISH FIRE DAMAGED CHINA EMPORIUM BUILDING AND RECOVER R28 MILLION COSTS FROM DEVELOPER

EThekwini Municipality has been locked in a legal battle over the demolition of the fire damaged China Emporium building which is a public safety hazard and an eyesore.

The building, located in the western side of the Durban Central Business District, was extensively damaged by fire in January 2022. A structural engineer’s report received days after the fire recommended that the entire building be demolished.

The decision to expedite the demolition comes after careful consideration of multiple challenges arising from the compromised structure’s continued existence. Issues such as illegal dumping, unsanctioned public use, the risk of structural collapse as the building is unstable, traffic congestion, business disruptions due to prolonged road closures, and reputational concerns have compelled the Municipality to take swift action.

Due to non-action by the owners, the Municipality approached court for the demolition of the building to be granted through a court order.

In September 2022, the building owner, Zoloscore Investments (Pty) Ltd was directed to demolish the structure within six months.
This was not done and as such, Zoloscore Investments (Pty) Ltd is technically in breach of the court order which empowers the Municipality to demolish the building and recover the costs from the building owner. This means the Municipality equally has a legal obligation to act.

In a proactive and resolute stride towards enhancing public safety and ushering in new investment opportunities, the Municipality’s Executive Committee (EXCO) has given its resounding approval to expedite the demolition of the fire damaged structure.

This critical decision aligns with the City’s unwavering commitment to creating a secure urban environment and fostering economic growth.

A comprehensive report presented during the EXCO meeting on 22 August 2023 explained the rationale behind the estimated R28 million budget earmarked for the building’s demolition. The incurred costs include the demolition, clearing of rubble, cleaning up the property and securing the site afterwards.

Importantly, this financial commitment is set to be recovered by the City, adhering to a court order that mandates the building owner, Zoloscore Investments (Pty) Ltd, to shoulder all expenses related to the demolition and subsequent clean-up.

The building’s demolition is a necessary step towards preserving the integrity of the City’s urban fabric and ensuring a secure environment for its residents.

Moreover, adherence to legal stipulations further underscores the City’s commitment to upholding regulations and ensuring the safety of its residents.

This substantial investment highlights the Municipality’s dual responsibility to uphold its legal obligations and safeguard its residents from potential harm.

“Our priority remains the safety and prosperity of our community,” affirmed eThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda chairing the EXCO meeting.

He also emphasised the importance of prudent financial management, highlighting the ongoing efforts to negotiate lower demolition costs through the City’s Supply Chain Management.

Furthermore, Mayor Kaunda called for the acceleration of the demolition process, acknowledging the pivotal role the removal of the damaged building plays in facilitating a major R130 million investment in the M4 outbound carriage.

R10 MILLION FOR COMMUNITY UPLIFTMENT PROGRAMMES TO GROW THE ECONOMY

In line with its dedication to public safety, eThekwini Municipality equally commits to uplifting communities through programmes to grow the economy supported by the Community and Emergency Services Cluster.

Under the leadership of Councillor Zama Sokhabase, the Cluster is set to invest R10,9 million in an array of community uplifting programmes by investing in growing the creative industry which suffered financial losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

These initiatives underscore the City’s commitment to foster positive change and inclusivity, enriching the cultural tapestry, bolstering health awareness, and stimulating economic growth.

The identified programmes will promote different music genres and create an enabling environment for upcoming developing artists within the City.

The identified programmes include the 16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children, Girl Child Boot Camp, Umbuso Wamaciko Maskandi Festival, Youth Hip Hop Festival, Doek on Fleek Picnic, Nomfundo Moh Live in Concert, Gcwalisa Spring Picnic, Sebenza Women Awards, Cancer Awareness, Traditional Healers event and many others.

These initiatives are aligned with the City’s vision of promoting unity and diversity as well as building healthy communities. This is achieved by channelling resources into youth empowerment project, health and safety initiatives and engaging senior citizens.

Mayor Kaunda said sponsoring such events was a major boost to the economy with big cities all over the world adopting similar strategies to attract tourists.

CITY’S ELECTRICITY TARIFFS REVIEW MOOTED

A report seeking approval for the review of the City’s electricity tariffs for the 2023/24 financial year was tabled at EXCO, revising tariff structure to a 15.1% increase as opposed to an 18.49% increase initially proposed by the Municipality.

This prudent approach to electricity tariffs is guided by the National Energy Regulator South Africa’s approval of overall tariff structures for the upcoming fiscal year.

All the above reports are subject to approval at the sitting of Full Council scheduled to convene on Thursday, 24 August 2023, at the Durban International Convention Centre.

ENDS
Issued by eThekwini Municipality.

Caption: The China Emporium building has become a public safety hazard and an eyesore since being damaged by a fire in January 2022.

 

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