South African looting creates demolition possibilities

Published 19/4, 2022 at 12:50

South Africa’s demolition sector is being called on to contribute to rebuilding efforts after riots, looting and wanton destruction in 2021 caused damage estimated at billions of euros. PDi Africa editor Kevin Mayhew reports.

As South Africa was grappling with the dire economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, a week long trail of devastation, looting and arson hit two of its key provinces, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), in July 2021.  The violent action was apparently triggered by supporters of former president, Jacob Zuma, to protest against his imprisonment for contempt of court. The main cities of the two provinces, Johannesburg and Durban, are at either end of the vital N3 transport corridor which links the Port of Durban to the financial production powerhouse of the country, Gauteng province, with its inland port of City Deep in Johannesburg.

The looting focused on the main retail centres and wholesale facilities. They were looted and many were set alight as part of the activity, leaving them in need of fast repair or reconstruction. Engineers declared demolition was required for the badly affected facilities which number in the hundreds with damage estimates of between €1B and €3B.

A spokesperson for Durban based Atomic Demolition confirmed it had been approached to quote on  hulks of malls, buildings and warehouses for either partial or total demolition. The marketing manager of Phoenecian Group in Johannesburg, Catherine Habib, said it had been given two demolition contracts in Durban as a direct result of the mayhem, with more a possibility. Phoenecian recently announced its buy out of Wreckers Demolition (reported in PDi in December2021).

Renowned local economist Dr Roelof Botha, speaking at the release of the authoritative Afrimat Construction Index (ACI) after the riots, said: “Damage done to buildings through the rioting and looting in July, and likelihood of additional spend on building, repairs and security in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, was likely to boost construction activity in the third quarter and probably also into the fourth quarter.” It now appears that this boost is continuing into 2022 as well.

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