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IOLProperty - South African Property For Sale
Monday Apr 23, 2012

Joburg properties erode as river banks crumble

Joburg property owners who live along the spruits running through the city say their properties are being washed away and little is being done about it.

A collapsed fence due to the erosion of the Fairbank Spruit's river banks.

In many places, especially in the northern suburbs, retaining walls and gabions holding up the river banks are collapsing.

But the city, through the Joburg Roads Agency (JRA), which is responsible for the maintenance, has no funds to repair them.

This is leading to properties being devalued, owners losing money as their walls and fences face collapse, and security problems.

In recent months, Metrowatch has received several complaints.

Among the latest is one from Ian and Alison Blair, who have had the fence along their Berario property washed away.

Ian Blair said: "I am desperate. In January 2010, the Fairland Spruit riverbank at the bottom of our garden collapsed during a storm, taking our garden fence with it.

"At the time we had been warning the JRA that the gabions protecting the bank were in need of maintenance, as they had never even been inspected in the 10 years we have lived in the house."

They decided to log a claim with the JRA's insurers, as their insurers accepted liability only to fix the fence and not the riverbank that the fence sits on.

"Unfortunately, the JRA'S insurers also declined liability to fix the riverbank because it is not our property. They also claim that January had the highest rainfall since 2003, which I consider to be statistically irrelevant."

The JRA came and removed the section of fence that was in the river and since then the Blairs have been waiting for its workers to complete the repairs, which, due to the risk of a thunderstorm, can be done only in winter.

"We are now heading into the third winter since we lost our fence and appear no closer to any action.

"Fortunately, we haven't suffered a crime problem so far, but our security is badly compromised," said Blair.

"The fact that this has all happened diminishes the value of our property, not to mention the fact that it has changed the life of my family extensively, as we can no longer kick/throw/play with a ball without it going down the river and away down the culvert," he added.

The walls of the Braamfontein Spruit in Parkhurst, around 2nd Street, are also eroding.

Jack Davis said the stone retainer walls, where the spruit comes out of the Parkview golf course, were falling apart because the wire holding the rocks together was rusted and broken.

"So, with each storm that comes down, more and more stones wash away. Soon the bridge will be in trouble. We are also losing land to the river," he said.

Metrowatch has also reported in the past months of the same river eroding the banks of Pirates Club in Greenside where the hockey fields are in danger of collapsing.

Responding on the Fairland Spruit, the JRA, in a letter to residents, said inspectors visited the site almost two years ago and the project was then placed on the stormwater priority list.

"It almost looked like implementation would have commenced in the current financial year, but then the budget was cut back and only two of the initial nine projects survived.

"Due to the depot's budget constraints, I don't think much could have been done on the issue," stated the letter.

On the Parkhurst damage, the JRA told The Star that it had inspected the spruit, but that there were no funds in this financial year.

However, JRA spokesman Thulani Makhubela said this was on the list of projects for next year and had been placed in the business planning and development department's priority list.

The Star

 
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