Sydney residents told to move back to crumbling high rise building


Disgruntled residents at Sydney’s evacuated Opal Tower have lashed out at its developers saying they don’t want to return to live in the crumbling building.

As shocking pictures lay bare the devastating impact of remediation work on the tower, investigators still cannot explain the cause of the cracking that triggered two evacuations in a week.

Opal resident Vivian Lu was one of hundreds who were forced to leave their homes last week.

She has been living in a friend’s home in nearby Ermington since she was forced out of her level 34 unit and told The Australian she didn’t want to return to the tower to “live in a construction zone”.

“How can they ask us to move back after evacuating twice without any report of what caused the damage?” she said.

“If the developer and engineers say the building is safe, they should buy my units back from me. I’ll give them 10 per cent off.”

It comes as furious residents have taken pictures revealing the devastating impact of the extensive remediation work inside the building.

They show metal props being used to support the cracked building and some even being used to brace ceilings inside apartments.

Further pictures supplied by residents to the Sydney Morning Herald show carpets ripped up and holes sliced in walls.

Reacting to the pictures, a spokeswoman for the tower’s builder Icon told the newspaper there were about 180 “precautionary” props being used between level 10 and the basement “in case any cracking re-occurred”.

NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts has said he’s told the developer and the builder to spare no expense in looking after the welfare of the Opal Tower residents who have been living in temporary accommodation while investigations are under way.

‘Precautionary’ props are being used ‘in case any cracking re-occurred’. Picture: Kabo MatlhoSome residents say they don’t want to return to their homes. Picture: Kabo Matlho

Developer Ecove has not commented on whether it would offer to buy units back from residents.

It comes as a war of words broke out over who will be accountable for the whole debacle — as more than 300 residents are still left in limbo.

It began on Tuesday when Ecove took a bold step by revealing aspects of a confidential contract.

However, an Icon spokes­woman hit back at the extraordinary step by telling The Australian “our priorities remain the safety and welfare of the residents and rectifying the issue, not on attempting to cover our backsides”.

Ecove founder Bassam Aflak said the buck stops with Icon.

“It’s come as a shock to all of us,” Mr Aflak told The Australian Financial Review. “It’s a very unusual situation and, as you can appreciate, there’s no way Icon would ever want to be in this position just given their brand and reputation.”

More bad news broke from the site yesterday when investigators found two new fissures as they were racing to install structural support on level four of the Olympic Park building.

Until then, it had been believed that the damage was restricted to level 10, where engineers have been forced to install giant metal supports to prevent cracks widening in areas where prefab concrete panels met concrete poured on site.

On Monday, WSP said investigators have accessed all key locations in the Sydney Olympic Park apartment tower and found the building is “structurally sound overall”.

Loud cracking noises heard by residents on Christmas Eve triggered the evacuation of the building and the surrounding areas.