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Parliament reconstruction process to take 24 months

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[DOCUMENT] Parliament fire report by City of Cape Town

Parliament says the reconstruction process of fire-damaged Parliament buildings will be completed within 24 months after it was gutted by fire last January.

Secretary to Parliament, Xolile George, announced this during a media briefing on Tuesday to communicate details of the reconstruction process of the sections of the buildings of Parliament damaged by the fire.

The fire broke out on 2 January 2022 and burnt for at least three days severely affecting both the Old Assembly and the National Assembly buildings of Parliament. These buildings house the chambers of the National Assembly and critical offices of Parliament.

“It is envisaged that the Project will be completed within 24 months and allow a further six months for retention to deal with snags and challenges arising after occupation.

“Given the extensive nature of the damage it was envisaged that it would take anywhere between 42 and 48 months to do this work.

“But we are pleased that in our discussion with the DBSA and taken into account their own technical capability. They have given us assurance that this project can be executed within 24 months,” George said.

The Secretary to Parliament said that they remain indebted to the over 300 men and women from the fire and rescue services who worked tirelessly over 71 hours to contain the fire, thereby saving the rest of the historical buildings of Parliament.

Last year during the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana allocated R2 billion to parliament for the reconstruction project of parliament.

George told the media briefing that Parliament and the Development Bank of South Africa Limited (DBSA), through its Infrastructure Delivery Division (IDD), have agreed to collaborate in tandem with other stakeholders such as the DPWI and the Treasury, in respect of the implementation of the project.

“The DBSA is the most suitable entity to play this role, given their expertise and statement of capability that they have demonstrated assisting a wide array of government departments to implementing massive infrastructure scale projects.

“They have quite a huge program of infrastructure delivery in their portfolio and to us when we look at that undertaking given the urgency of work that needs to be done, we have identified them as the most comprehensive multidisciplinary state institution that is designed to have the requisite expertise to help us manage a project of this nature,” George said.

According to the Secretary to Parliament the areas of partnership between Parliament and the DBSA for the purpose of this project will include capacity development, technical support and implementation of infrastructure projects.

George further announced that the partnership with DBSA includes refurbishment of burnt Parliament buildings, the Old Assembly building, link building and National Assembly Building.

He added that the partnership with DBSA will also upgrade security infrastructure and conceptualisation and redesign of the Parliamentary precinct.

Firefighters work among the smoke after a fire broke out in the Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

Firefighters work among the smoke after a fire broke out in the Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

He said that part of the prioritisation of the work would include clearing the site and making sure that they can determine what can still be secured and what is not possible to secure.

George said that the restoration project provides a unique opportunity to ensure that spaces are designed in a manner that best suits the specific needs of a democratic parliament and to modernise the institution’s digital infrastructure.

He highlighted that the gutted National Assembly was built in the 1980s and narrowly catered for few needs of members during that time.

“It is therefore envisaged that, through this project, South Africa will have a new Chamber that fully serves the imperatives of our constitutional democracy, which includes sufficient capacity for joint sittings of the two Houses.

“There will be a larger public gallery to accommodate members of the public in line with Parliament’s constitutional obligations of public involvement, more office spaces for MPs and committee rooms,” George said. –SAnews

 

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