Residents will likely be able to make a shopping trip again to the new Spar before the end of the year. In the photo are the clean up crews busy with the clean-up operations. Photo: Andries van der Heyde

New hope for Spar reconstruction

 
 
 

Andries van der Heyde   l   Views: 146

Bela-Bela shoppers will in all likelihood be able to walk through the new doors of Spar before the end of the year, after mopping up operations kicked in to rebuild the store.

The Superspar building was destroyed by a raging inferno last September.

Another unfolding drama is the possibility of court battles over insurance and municipality issues.

Also, former workers converged on the premises on Tuesday 13 March, voicing concern about labour issues.

They said the Department of Labour was being engaged for advice, and that a report back would be provided shortly.

The workers were scheduled to meet again next Tueseday.

Bela-Bela residents and firefighters watched helplessly when the building went up in flames, allegedly due to lack of water in the pipelines, and equipment which did not function.

The fire brigade’s only option was to rush to various emergency reservoirs in town to get water, but to no avail.

Tinus Ras, DA councilor in Bela-Bela, said he acted as the insurance consultant, as part of PSG consultants, for part of the building’s claim and that the claim had been successful. 

He said mopping up operations had commenced and construction plans are in place. 

Once construction is complete, Spar owner Carel Coetzee and his team will resume management.

The other part of the building’s insurance claim (that of Wiehahn and Carel Coetzee) was handled by another insurance firm, but it was denied due to alleged issues with the occupation certificate, Ras had said.

One source said if the certificate had never been issued, it means that the shopping centre was built right under the noses of the municipality without their knowledge.

“If the municipality didn’t issue the certificate, SuperSpar wouldn’t have had electricity and would have been banned from conducting business,” Ras said. 

According to him the SuperSpar building plans are available at the municipality, but there is no stamp of authorisation or signature that shows that it was legitimate.

“Up to this point, the municipality can’t establish whether the plans were authorised or not, and this led to the delays,” said Ras.

He further said the part of the building nearest to the Tops liquor store is earmarked for the new Spar.

Municipal spokesperson Kabelo Mosito has told The BEAT’s sister newspaper, The Post, the municipality have submitted all the documents that were requested from them by Spar management and will cooperate should they request more information.

Carel Coetzee said evidence with regards to the building was handed over in December 2017 to the municipal manager, but no rectifications were ever done. 

According to him there is enough evidence suggesting that the plans were in fact authorised and the municipality failed to give it a stamp of approval.

Coetzee said he has already sought legal advice for a pending court case against the parties that were involved during the SuperSpar centre establishment in 2008/2009.

Legal advice was also being sought with regards to the insurance claim and the role of the municipality.

He could not provide further details as the matter was sub judice. 

But he did confirm that he will still be involved in the management of the new Spar.

“We are looking forward to serving the community once again,” he said.

He further said the staff had been involved in various community projects from September 2017 to February this year, and had put in a total of 74 000 hours of community service.

“It was an honour for us and our staff to have served the community in this way. A community which has supported us all these years,” Coetzee said.

Concerning the previous staff Coetzee said: “Every member of staff was paid in full, but due to the insurance claim that has failed, we had no choice but to let them go. This had a negative impact on our community projects, but we will carry on with projects in the future – even if it’s on a smaller scale.”

The Spar head office had recently granted financing to the Istores group (of which the owners of Bela-Bela SuperSpar has been part of for 34 years), in order for the construction to continue, even against the backdrop of  court proceedings. 

42 days ago       15 March 2018