After a fire broke out at the Bank of Lisbon building in central Joburg claiming three lives, government employees working there- and in other buildings around the city believed to be unsafe- were evacuated. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - Hundreds of government employees will, for the second month, draw salaries while sitting at home.

The employees were evacuated from their offices in the Joburg CBD after the Bank of Lisbon building caught fire last month. The September 5 fire led to the deaths of three firefighters.

Following the fire, government employees who were also subjected to working in other unsafe buildings revolted and took to the streets.

The provincial government then announced that it would be shutting down seven other uninhabitable buildings that various departments used around the city.

This week, Gauteng provincial spokesperson Thabo Masebe confirmed there were still employees who were still not accommodated in any other offices and were therefore forced to stay at home.

“There are a number of people who couldn’t be allocated in buildings. Departments also came with innovative ways of giving people office space. They have been accommodated in office space. In other departments, there are people working on a rotation basis. For instance, one person will come in for three days and be off while another person comes in.”

The Bank of Lisbon building, which was only 21% compliant with safety and health regulations, used to accommodate the departments of Health, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements.

Masebe said the Department of Health had found a building in the inner city and it would be ready for occupation by the end of the month, after the Labour Department had inspected it.

Health Department employees have voiced their frustration at being stuck at home with no work.

“I went past the building (Bank of Lisbon) recently and there is no sign of construction taking place there. Staying at home is frustrating. I thought by now we would have new offices where we could work from,” said an employee who asked not to be named.

Another employee said he'd been to work on a rotation basis. He said the rotation worked only twice. In both instances, he reported to duty for two days and there wasn't much to do.

“There is also lack of equipment. People report for duty but nothing gets done there,” he said.

A Department of Human Settlements employee said most employees were working from regional offices on Diagonal Street but said there were some employees sitting at home.

Masebe said the Bank of Lisbon building was still sealed off while investigations into the cause of the fire continued. “Police are busy with investigations. A structural assessment will be made and then a decision will be made on whether to repair the building or demolish it,” he said.

Gauteng DA health spokesperson Jack Bloom said he was distressed to hear there were employees drawing salaries while sitting at home.

The Star