Specialising in demolition, Phoenician Group has just completed a major demolition project for a central Mass Discounters distribution centre in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. The retailer suffered extensive damage due to the looting and unrest in July last year.
“The distribution centre was looted and unfortunately burnt down as well, which caused extensive damage to the building’s structure,” explains Phoenecian Contracts Manager Sne’ Khanyile. “The steel frame was compromised to the point where there was no alternative other than to demolish the entire structure.”
Khanyile adds that the damaged building posed a major health and safety risk. “It really was not safe at all. The roof sheeting was in jeopardy of being blown away, so there was quite a lot of preparatory work that needed to be done before we could embark on the demolition process itself.” This had to consider all elements of the compromised structure to prevent any further damage.
Phoenecian demolition expert Richard Kelly adds that the structure presented a major challenge as it had a high apex on the section that was still actually standing upright. “Half the building had collapsed totally to the ground in the middle and that was obviously our starting point,” says Kelly.
Demolition grapple attachments were transported from Johannesburg, while additional equipment was sourced from another project in close vicinity. All the scrap metal from the site in the form of steel sheeting and all structural steel elements will be recycled.
“All that remains on-site are a couple of concrete structures that will be assessed for a possible Phase 2 expansion, but we suspect that these are not structurally sound and will end being condemned,” says Kelly. Phoenecian completed its portion of the project over the Easter break in April 2022.
Phoenecian has played a key role in assisting companies to recover from the July unrest and looting. “There are still a lot of structures in KwaZulu-Natal that are in a similar condition, and we are looking at various additional projects in the province,” says Khanyile. He adds that the recent flooding in Durban has caused even more damage to critical infrastructure. “The province has been battered by a series of unforeseen disasters, and we are playing an active role in helping it rebuild and recover,” he concludes.