George building collapse: Contractor not registered with construction body, says Minister Sihle Zikalala

A total of 20 workers are still unaccounted for. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

A total of 20 workers are still unaccounted for. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published May 14, 2024

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National Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Sihle Zikalala dropped a bombshell when he visited the site where the building collapsed in George in the Western Cape.

At the moment, 19 workers are still unaccounted for and 33 people (27 men and six women) have died. A total of 61 workers have been rescued and recovered while 12 are hospitalised.

Zikalala said the contractor responsible for the building in George is not registered with the Construction Industry Development Board.

The construction company responsible for the building of the five-story building is Liatel Construction.

During his address to the media and families of the workers, Zikalala said this was the biggest tragic incident in the construction industry since 1994.

He expressed his condolences and pledged the support of respective departments to work with the families of those affected.

“We are going to ensure a thorough investigation. No stone will be left unattended. Every report must be scrutinised. No one must be protected and we must ensure accountability,” he said.

Zikalala said when these things happen to departments that govern they get subjected to scrutiny, but, that scrutiny must also be applied to private companies in the same way.

“We support the call for an independent forensic investigation. The lives of our people, irrespective of whereabouts, whether they are located in any province or municipality. Irrespective of where they come from.

“The first priority is to protect people then we attend to other issues. Each and every life counts. In our own case, the case of Africans in particular, one person supports a number of people in the family. Therefore, when one person is lost, this affects a number of people in the family,” he said.

Zikalala said the developers, Neotrend Developments, and contractors are morally obligated to support the families.

"It has been established the main contractor (Liatel Construction) is not registered with the Construction Industry Development Board as it is not a requirement in terms of the current regulations for contractors that are executing projects for the private sector clients.

"In the current legislation, the contractors working in the private sector do not undergo similar assessments as those operating in the public sector under the CIDB Register of Contractors, the current CIDB Amendment Bill is an attempt at closing this gap,” Jacaranda News reported.

The broadcaster further reported that Zikalala said the Engineering Council of South Africa previously received two complaints against one of the people involved in the project.

He said one complaint was received in 2019, which was investigated and dismissed and another complaint in December 2023, which is still going through the improper conduct process.

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