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Joburg mayor confirms Metro Centre building transformers have aged

Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda today gave an update on the effort extended to bring Bree street back online. Picture: Timothy Bernard / African News Agency (ANA)

Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda today gave an update on the effort extended to bring Bree street back online. Picture: Timothy Bernard / African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 2, 2023


The mayor of Joburg, Kabelo Gwamanda, has confirmed that the transformers which caused a fire into the Metro Centre building were too old and dilapidated.

Two weeks ago, the building which houses the offices of the mayor and the council speaker, Colleen Makhubele, was engulfed in yet another fire.

The mayor and other city officials, including city manager Floyd Brink, were forced to find alternative accommodation for their official duties.

On Monday, the mayor issued a statement updating the media on the latest developments following an investigation into the cause of the fire.

He said as things stand, the B-block and council chambers are still without power due to the flames that engulfed the building.

“The report received confirms what has been a known challenge, fear and fact. The buildings transformers have outlived their useful life. To exacerbate matters, two weeks ago, the MIS where these transformers are situated caught fire, which appears to have started in the area where the transformers are housed. The unsafe nature of the transformers renders the building unsafe, as evidenced by the fire at the MIS building and as such, it has necessitated that we take drastic steps of closing off the building to employees and visitors as safety measures,” Gwamanda said.

The fire at the offices comes barely two months after a fire in Usindiso Building killed 77 people and another at another building just over a week ago. Both buildings are in Marshalltown in the CBD.

Gwamanda said the Metro Centre building has been an ongoing concern for some time following yet another fire early this year as well as other challenges.

“The building is over 50 years old and the transformers are over 40 years old. A building as old as Metro Centre requires major refurbishment every 15 years so as to keep its structural integrity and operating components up to standard with applicable occupational health standards,” he said.

He said after the multi-party government rejected a report into the state of the building, they are now forced to implement its recommendations.

“The previous mayoral committee under the multi-party government, in 2022, rejected a report on the state of the building ... We are now forced by circumstances to fast-track this process but are pleased the JPC (Joburg Property Company) had fortunately commenced with a process of request for proposals. This will provide alternative accommodation for the departments and employees of the city who occupy the Metro Centre currently,” he said.