Pupils at Ellerton Primary School in Three Anchor Bay are struggling to concentrate in class due to the construction of a block of flats and a hotel across the street from the school.
Drilling, jackhammering and noise coming from excavators, cranes, and other heavy machinery can be heard by anyone entering the school or walking around the neighbourhood.
According to Ellerton Primary School principal, Carolyn Cannon, this disturbance has been going on since November last year.
“We saw that the building was going to be sold and the only time we got to know about the plans was when the jackhammering started,” said Ms Cannon.
She said she phoned the developers, Mason Developments, and complained about the noise problem.
The principal said she met with someone from the developers who filled her in about their plans and they worked on a schedule during final exams last year which worked out well as they managed to stop construction during this time.
“All was well last year but now it has become constant and the noise and the dust coming from the site is unbearable. It’s affecting not only our learners but the whole staff as well,” she said.
The principal said the school can’t even open windows and the staff are constantly complaining about headaches.
“The developers promised us a high powered fan and then sent us small fan, but I returned it because our fans are bigger than that in the classrooms.”
Worst of all, the noise is affecting teaching.
“We can’t even talk to each other via intercom because all we hear is the noise,” said Ms Cannon.
She said they understand that it’s a construction site but somehow they need to look at reducing the noise.
“The communication between teachers and learners always breaks in the classrooms. Teachers and learners are shouting at each other because they can’t hear each other and it’s just too much,” said Ms Cannon.
She said she has a responsibility to ensure that the pupils are taught properly and the constitution clearly states that children have a right to a proper education. . The noise is preventing this from happening.
“Children are different, there are children who are not able to concentrate if there’s noise, some have sinuses and everything is covered in dust.”
Ms Cannon said the foreman told her that they still have a three-metre rock to go through and at the end of May, they will finish with the drilling and jack-hammering and start with the building, which will continue to 2019.
She said Law Enforcement have been contacted several times and they admitted that nearby businesses and residents are also complaining about the noise.
Grade 3 teacher, Gildenhuys K, said she had to move her class to a school hall. She’s worried because her class writes systemic tests and poor performance will reflect badly on her and the school. She was not able to read in class because of the noise.
Fellow Grade 3 teacher Sampson shared the same problem.
“My children can’t hear me, I can’t hear them and it’s even worse during orals and this takes the whole day and even the kids complain,” said Ms Sampson
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) was alerted to this issue and they advised the school to get a building inspector and explain the situation to the City of Cape Town and come back to them if it’s not resolved.
Ward 115 Councillor Dave Bryant, said he had met with the principal on site last month and they discussed the issue and other challenges which he is in the process of assisting with. “The work being undertaken is not in contravention of building regulations but, after being on site with the headmistress, I could appreciate the issues relating to noise,” said Mr Bryant.
He said he advised the principal to ensure that all noise outbreaks are reported to Law Enforcement when they occur so action can be taken if the noise is found to be causing a disturbance. The Director of Mason developments, Joshua Killian, has declined to comment on the matter.