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Manhole irks businessman after 15 years

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The manhole (or meter chamber) at a premises in Stikland which has allegedly broken repeatedly over the past 15 years.
The manhole (or meter chamber) at a premises in Stikland which has allegedly broken repeatedly over the past 15 years.

A business owner in Stikland is furious with the City of Cape Town over a manhole in front of his premises which he says has been broken on and off for around 15 years.

The owner, Dirk Streicher, says he’s complained about the issue repeatedly to the City. They sometimes send out repairmen who more often than not do a shoddy job that needs to be fixed soon after, he claims.

The manhole drama started when Norwegian paint company Jotun Paints started leasing the building from him in 2007.Because of the nature of their work, he was required to change the classification of the building to account for the higher fire risk.

This meant the premises needed a fire hydrant and the manhole was installed.

This came at a cost, which is currently around R2 600 per month, which Streicher pays to the City for the opportunity to have the hydrant close to the premises.

But pretty soon after installation, the concrete around the manhole started breaking down.

“It’s an embarrasment,” he says, as he is often called by Jotun Paints to solve the problem and which he hasn’t been able to solve yet.

“It’s a safety risk, it’s untidy and the workmanship is inferior,” Streicher says, who has worked in the construc­tion industry numerous times over the years.

He can’t fix it himself or have it fixed because it’s the City’s property.

When he calls the City, they sometimes send someone out, but often just give excuses, he says.

“The last time they said the material needed to fix the manhole is from Durban and the factory burnt down.”

He says the whole situation is astonishing and criminal.

In response to the claims, Luthando Tyhalibongo, the City’s spokesperson, says the manhole is in fact “a meter chamber of a meter connection and not a manhole.” 

“An operations team will assess how best to repair this meter connection to make it more durable as vehicles are not meant to drive over the cover slab. Generally, water meter connections are situated on sidewalks rather than the current location of this meter chamber.”

Streicher says the issue stays thesame, regardless of the wording. “The lid and frame are broken and it’s dangerous.

“The City installed that meter themselves because it’s on their property. Now they’re acting like it’s our fault.”

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