Face-lift: MEC Ntombi Mekgwe says the assessment will focus mainly on houses built before 1994 with hazardous asbestos roofing. picture: Gallo Images
The Gauteng department of human settlements is in the process of replacing asbestos roofing with tiles.
The department will use houses affected by storms late last year as pilots for the project and will prioritise vulnerable groups such as the aged, indigent and people living with disabilities.
MEC Ntombi Mekgwe said the assessment would be conducted in all municipalities in Gauteng and would focus mainly on houses built before 1994 in old townships that were formerly reserved for black, Indian and coloured people.
The department needs to conduct the assessment before they could replace all asbestos roofing with tiles, since asbestos was banned in the country in 2008.
“The assessment will enable the department to get information for its implementation planning stage,” she said.
In terms of safety of the residents, Mekgwe said the people conducting the assessment will be wearing branded bibs and carrying identification cards.
The second stage will, among others, include liaison with the department of labour on regulations and procedures for the handling of the asbestos roof material and its disposal.
“I have noted that after the recent extreme weather in Gauteng, an assessment showed that the asbestos roofing in a number of township houses had deteriorated to the extent where they were likely to release dust particles into the air, which is the cause of asbestos-associated diseases,” she said.
The project will create a number of job opportunities around the province with targeted employment to be extended to the youth, who will commence with training in the handling of asbestos products.
“The scarce skills to be acquired by the youth during the training and project will be unique and will place them in a favourable position for future work,” she said.
The MEC said her department would work closely with all municipalities in communicating about and implementing the project.