Cape Town - Work is set to get under way to restore the Parliament buildings that were damaged in a fire last year.
The national legislature was allocated R2 billion for the restoration programme of the Old and New Assembly buildings by the Finance Minister in his medium-term budget policy statement.
A total of R118 million was also allocated for unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure.
The Development Bank of Southern Africa has since been appointed as an implementing agent for the restoration work.
On Friday, National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and officials briefed the MPs on the restoration and precinct design project.
Special project manager, Simon Mashigo said Parliament engaged the Development Bank of Southern Africa as an implementing agent and a handover report from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure took place on March 6.
“The handover was based on a condition assessment report for restoration of the Old Assembly and the New Wing.
“The programme was broken down into work packages for early, medium and long-term deliverables,” Mashigo said.
He also said safe access routes were created to determine access to the buildings and verify the assets, scan the buildings and prepare for removal of rubble.
“As part of the repairs, there is a request for upgrading the buildings.
“This is so that they meet the national building regulations.
“The Old Assembly’s corridors are too narrow, dark and with no sufficient ventilation,” Mashigo said.
Mashigo said certain work was delayed due to the need to determine safe access routes and verify the assets.
“Work has continued in terms of planning and construction is to commence on May 18.”
He said some heritage assets were retrieved and cleaned.
“Some are infested with mould and bacteria. Some of assets are in bad condition,” he said.
There were 2 800 assets in the National Assembly’s asset register that burned down.
“We have completed the process. We will submit a report so that the CFO can prepare the annual financial statements,” he said, adding that the report would be submitted on Tuesday.
Mashigo also said work has been done in terms of planning for the removal of rubble and debris in the affected buildings.
“Work will start on June 9 and be completed on June 31.”
Last Friday, a contractor was to be appointed to reconfigure two floors in 90 Plein Street for the offices of MPs.
Work will start on May 18 and be completed on June 13.
“It will be a fast-tracked project.
The construction company is required to run on three shifts a day,” he said.
He noted that they were behind schedule for the 155 MPs’ offices.
Mapisa-Nqakula said a lot of progress has been made towards the planning for actual restoration and interim arrangements to bring MPs and employees back.
“This is in order to normalise operations of Parliament.
“It has not been an easy road but I think we are getting somewhere,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
She said the restoration of the parliamentary precinct was not about rebuilding of the structures.
It was more about restoring and reaffirming the centrality and functioning of South Africa’s democracy.
“It is also about ensuring our duly public representatives have a safe and secure place to meet”.