Programme to remove all asbestos roofs begins

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Government has kick-started the programme to remove all asbestos roofs across the country. The project has already begun in the Fezile Dabi region in the Free State. The province came under the spotlight in 2012, when it emerged that the Free State government had paid R255 million to a company to conduct a feasibility study on the removal of asbestos roofs.

This led to the arrest of Edwin Sodi, who faces charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering, along with former ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule who was premier at the time, and others.

Millions of rands in taxpayers’ money were spent to remove the hazardous roof tops, but not a single one was removed and now, it’s finally happening. More than 30 000 asbestos roofs will be replaced.

“Our children got sick and we have proof of that. Even myself, as Mr Lebona, my daughter went to hospital and they say his lungs are affected. So we are pleased when you say things will improve let the government work,” a resident said.

“Let them remove them I’m glad. These things are very cold and broken. They are useless,” another resident explains.

“You see the one behind you, it’s got bricks on top of it. When the wind blows it’s a problem. Water comes in. So, if the projects continue we are happy. And will be happy if the government commits to help its people,” a resident elaborates.

Minister of Human Settlements Mmamoloko Kubayi has promised that asbestos roofs will be removed throughout the country.

“I committed that I’ll do everything in my powers to go and find money to start the programme. We started it across the country. It’s a three-year programme. Phase one with the number based on the budget we allocate a number, we say in this year how many will do? So. we have started in Free State,” says Kubayi.

The trial of Magashule and others has been set down for April to June 2024 in the Free State High Court.