Gutted PMB railway station ticket office to be restored
Pietermaritzburg - The old, abandoned ticket office at the Pietermaritzburg railway station that was engulfed in flames earlier this month, will be restored.
The building, situated 100m away from the railway station, was used as part of the road transport section for Transnet. It caught alight two weeks ago, leaving the building nothing but a burnt-out shell, with a collapsed roof.
Msunduzi municipality spokeswoman Nqobile Madonda confirmed that the building was on Transnet property. Madonda said according to city fire officials, the cause of the fire was “undetermined”, as the building had not been in use for many years, and there was no electricity or other known sources from which the fire could have started.
Transnet corporate affairs manager Sindi Ndimande assured that the train station itself was unaffected by the blaze.
She confirmed that the building was vacant at the time of the fire and would be restored before being handed over to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).
According to KZN heritage body Amafa’s Ros Devereux, the affected building was built in the late 1920s to early 1930s, and is, therefore, over 60 years old and protected in terms of heritage legislation.
The Pietermaritzburg station was nominated for national heritage landmark status in 2004, but had not yet been formally proclaimed by the South African Heritage Resources Agency.
Historically, the station is famous as being the place where Mahatma Gandhi was thrown off a train for riding first class in June 1893, spurring the Satyagraha (passive resistance) movement.
A ceremony honouring that historic day was held at the station on the night of June 7.
The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who is scheduled to visit Durban next month, is expected to take a train trip between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, hosted by Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter, Ela Gandhi.