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HANDY MAC: Keep it quiet

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Councils must act against building contractors who disregard noise pollution by-laws

Angle grinders and the smashand-grab gang”: I think this is a great heading which appeared on an email sent into the Master Builders Association for comment, and which now found its way on to my desk.

The author has asked to remain anonymous, but I chatted to him. Our suburb has been plagued by the “smash and grab” building gang: they arrive, chop, smash, angle grind, create noise, dust – and then leave. This never stops.
Other areas have the same and no action is taken by the City of Cape Town. Angle grinders are used on weekdays, weekends and public holidays to cut steel, tiles, bricks, paving, stone, roof beams and sheeting in the street, on garden fronts and in properties.
The labourer using the angle grinder does not wear goggles, dust mask or hearing protection and does this sort of work for months and years. Silicosis is the result.
What is a smash-and-grab gang? It usually consists of a bakkie or pick-up with a supervisor and from two to 10 men. They do not adhere to sound building practices, do not pre-measure and cut their raw materials off site, ignore the Occupational Safety Act, and disturb neighbourhoods with the use of angle grinders, cutters and power equipment.
They almost never operate based on plans, and cut all their raw materials in the street, on site or on the roof of the residence.
The writer suggests strict alterations and additions to the existing building by-laws which, in brief, say no noise on Sundays or public holidays and only between set times – usually 6am and 6pm – on other days.
These companies are probably non-registered and non-compliant. However, you can have laws, but if there is no enforcement we are never going to get anywhere. Trying to get hold of the council is near impossible, especially as we are hunker-down for elections.
To all municipalities around the country, we are holding you responsible for not protecting our rights. As a contractor I am aware we need to make a noise and at times it will be loud, but I can assure my fellow contractors that those who show respect for their clients and neighbours and work neatly and efficiently within the law, will always be busy.
* If you have a question for Don, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. 

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