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Action being taken to implement audit findings on fire risks in Parliament

Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jan 15, 2022

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Cape Town – The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has explained steps its taken to implement some of the fire-related findings that arose from a damning audit report that poked holes in the risks to Parliament’s buildings.

The internal audit report, known as BDO Advisory report, was commissioned by Minister Patricia de Lille and former National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to look into the concerns around the cost and delays in the upgrade work in the parliamentary precinct.

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The report made 30 findings within the areas of construction project management, financial management and contractor management, among others.

A presentation to the MPs on Friday, said the audit report identified on one specific floor at 90 Plein Street building that ventilation system design and fire protection in the precinct needed to be reviewed by a fire consultant.

“If the old design is widespread, a fire could spread through the service shafts between floors,” it said.

The audit found that a fire door and out-of-date serviced extinguisher on the sixth floor was not in compliance with fire regulations.

It made a finding that there should be expert assessments and appropriate solutions to fire protection in heritage assets.

“Inadequate fire protection for heritage buildings (posed) potential loss of life and loss of heritage assets,” it said.

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The department said it has since developed an audit action plan to implement the relevant findings from the BDO report.

It also said in ensuring compliance to best practices, consultants were appointed to establish a facilities management contract in Parliament in May 2021.

“The department conducted a condition assessment of the buildings at the precinct. The outputs of these assessments are implemented through the facilities management contract, which addresses corrective maintenance aspects, and a capital project is being registered for the major refurbishments,” reads the presentation.

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It also said an independent fire consulting engineer has been approached to provide a brief report to be used to develop the terms of reference for appointment of fire consultants.

The department said the fire extinguishers in 90 Plein Street had since been serviced in October 2020 and the fire door had also been rectified.

“The department is developing terms of reference to get technical expertise that will evaluate policy for protection of heritage buildings and review options to automate fire protection at the precinct,” said he report about the potential loss of life and loss of heritage assets.

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Meanwhile, the department said it would ensure that MPs and presiding officers whose offices have been affected by the fire in parliament were accommodated in alternative offices.

“Parliament is looking at this and some of the members have been moved and some will be moved into offices of officials.

“However, Public Works, through a letter from acting secretary of Parliament, is looking for alternative offices for those members,” head of prestige projects Mzwandile Sazona said.

He also said they are assisting Parliament to ensure plenary sessions that were hosted in the National Assembly, can continue.

The State of the Nation Address will be held in the Cape Town City Hall.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana will table his budget speech in the Good Hope building within the precinct.

“We have received a request from the acting secretary for us to look for alternative accommodation, however, we are still waiting for parliament to give further details of the size of the spaces that are required,” Sazona said.

Parliament has yet to conclude analysis of their requirements so that the department can find them office accommodation.

“We are still identifying if there is any other space in the 120 Plein building for Parliament to use as well,” he said.

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Political Bureau

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