A damp disgrace

FED UP residents of West Bank Kristen and Abraham Kriel have been living with damp walls in their home in Strand Street for months, caused by an overflow of water from a neighbouring property.

HEALTH CONCERN:WESTBACK SEWAGE 1- 3: The inside of the Kriels’ lounge walls of their home at 64 Strand Street, West Bank. The dampness in their home has been caused by an overflow of stormwater seeping through their backyard and into their home.

The water, the couple says, comes from the neighbouring property on 19 Jackson Street. The overflow has seeped through the family’s rented flat walls, causing major damage.

According to the Kriels, the property on 19 Jackson Street is being used by the Oceanic Hotel, but it is owned by Rent Trust.

“We realised there was a problem in July last year when, a few weeks after giving it a fresh coat of paint, our lounge wall was completely damp,” said Kristen.

The Kriel family lodged a complaint with Buffalo City Municipality and requested that a BCM waterworks superintendent assess the premises.

According to them, this resulted in the discovery that the stormwater overflow was caused by a series of alleged illegal connections made on the property. The family contacted various perceived stakeholders, including the Oceanic Hotel management and Rent Trust, who agreed to investigate the issue further, but have not contacted the family since November last year.

“We just want this to get fixed. The dampness has caused so many electrical problems and our son is constantly at the doctor with chest problems because of it,” said Abraham.

After contacting Rent Trust’s managing trustee Mathys Wehmeyer, it was discovered that the issue was more complex and Rent Trust were dealing with the same dampness on their properties.

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“I have personally inspected the matter of the excess stormwater and drainage at 19 Jackson Street, and I have established that the main cause is from the gutter system in the buildings at 17 Jackson Street,” Wehmeyer said.

“These roofs are discharging rainwater into the 19 Jackson Street property, as well as directly on to two of our apartments causing the same problem that is being experienced at 64 Strand Street.

“I am of the opinion that this building that has been erected at the back of the property of 17 Jackson Street, has been constructed without approved building plans.”

“It would be in the interest of all parties to resolve this matter, but why has nothing been done by BCM? I tried to obtain contact details for the owners of the property on 17 Jackson Street from BCM, but without success,” said Wehmeyer.

According to Kristen, a BCM representative visited the site on Tuesday.

“I took him next door and showed him the problem, but he said there is nothing BCM can do because it is on private property.”

BCM spokeswoman Bathandwa Diamond confirmed this.

“It is the owners of the neighbouring property who need to fix the problem. We will, however, see if there are any other avenues we can take in an effort to encourage the owners to fix it.”

No response had been received to questions sent to the Oceanic Hotel at the time of going to press.