Day two – CBD building fire still rages after claiming three firefighters’ lives

The fire at the Gauteng departments of health and human settlements building has spread according to The Citizen.

While firefighters had managed to contain the blaze on Wednesday, they had to leave the building as their water pressure had dropped – making continuing the fight that had already claimed three of their colleagues’ lives and hospitalised several others for smoke inhalation too dangerous.

On Friday morning the fire was finally put out – and fire department officials are watching to make sure it doesn’t reignite.

According to Times LIVE, the fire is spreading through the sixteenth floor because the air ducts have been stuffed is paper and boxes.

According to City Press, The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union have been warning the government about how dangerous the building was since 2014.

“In 2014, our members protested, but instead of management addressing the concerns, shop stewards were suspended, charged and dismissed after a disciplinary process,” Nehawu’s Gauteng provincial secretary Tshepo Mokheranyana said.

According to Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo the building’s safety was rated by inspectors at 21%, in order for a building to be compliant with regulations it needs to be rated 85%.

eNCA reports that Gauteng Premier David Makhura has announced that all seven of the province’s buildings in the CBD are to be evacuated.

The department is now awaiting word on which buildings can be renovated, and which ones should just be knocked down.

My Take

This whole affair is down to a failure by government to do the basics.

And maintaining the buildings is very basic, at least so long as you don’t have somebody stealing the money.

This disaster is something that could have been avoided, that should have been avoided. Nehawu warned government about it, building inspectors warned government about it, the DA raised the issue at a point.

This is the sort of thing where whether you’re in the EFF, the DA, Cope, the ACDP, the Freedom Front Plus or the ANC – it is so basic that it isn’t even a topic of argument.

And yet here we are, nothing was done until the fire started, just like nothing was done about Jacob Zuma until the economy started collapsing. That is pretty damning for the ANC, because they are the ones in charge. The DA may have the city, but these buildings – the one that is burning and the ones that are being evacuated – are the province’s.

If the ANC can’t operate on that simple a level – how is radical economic transformation supposed to work?

How are they supposed to correct the injustices of hundreds of years of racism, when they can’t even maintain a few buildings?

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