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Kewtown makeover receives 2015 Govan Mbeki Award

Kewtown, Cape Town


19 October 2015 - Kewtown makeover receives Best Community Residential unit in South Africa award.

The Community Residential Unit Refurbishment Project in Kewtown, Cape Town, was an award winner in the countrywide 2015 Govan Mbeki Awards. Aurecon provided a range of engineering and project management services and the company was a major contributor to the project which won first prize in the Best Community Residential Unit project category in South Africa.

The Govan Mbeki Awards started in 2006 in honour of Govan Mbeki and his vision of ensuring and preserving human dignity for all. The Kewtown project is one of the City of Cape Town’s eleven upgrade projects and it forms part of a R1,5 billion major refurbishment programme that impacts 43 500 housing units.

Johan Keuler, Land Infrastructure Services Manager and Housing Service Line Leader from Aurecon’s Cape Town Office, says that a complete revamp of each of the building units was done. Besides maintenance work such as repairing leaking pipes, painting and glazing, particular attention was paid to renovations that would add value to the lives of residents. This included waterproofing floors; ensuring electrical and plumbing work complied with regulations; relooking at interior furnishings such as stairs, balustrades and windowsills, as well as renewing floor coverings.

“External communal areas were also revamped with vegetable gardens, play equipment, netball courts, trees and benches, which is a vast improvement on the concrete courtyards that were once part of the Kewtown area,” says Keuler.

Local upliftment and tenant education

The Kewtown project consisted of 320 units. The initial goal was to upgrade the old buildings, but the project surpassed this vision by significantly uplifting the community and restoring a sense of pride among the residents. Local labour was used throughout the project and a communication plan was put in place to facilitate partnerships with local residents and enhance service delivery. The project team also launched a tenant education programme to constructively influence community dynamics.

Temporary containers were converted into high quality accommodation to house displaced families while the construction work was taking place.

“The temporary accommodation that was created was of a high standard with doors, windows, partitions, hot and cold water, and insulation as well as free electricity,” says Keuler.

One of the challenges of the project included the tight building programme and strict deadlines. The project team needed to ensure open communication channels and ongoing collaboration to complete the project in time.

“A tight building programme such as this means that the project team has to go the extra mile when coordinating all the contractors, subcontractors and Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers on site. We were also closely involved with the residents to make sure they were notified about temporary accommodation and the progress of the project,” says Keuler.

Gangsterism in the Western Cape is a challenge, which also affected the project.

“We needed to formulate health and safety plans to ensure that staff, workers and community members were safe at all times during the construction period,” said Keuler.

Aurecon is proud to be involved in this project and it commends the City of Cape Town for its efforts to uplift vulnerable residents in their region. Keuler says that the success of the project can be attributed to having an effective network of public and private partnerships.

“The Kewtown revamp is a fine example of what can be achieved when government partners with experienced engineering consultancies, local residents and niche contractors. The Govan Mbeki award is a testament to how the project team went the extra mile to improve the lives of the community members,” concludes Keuler.

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