South African parliament building safe from collapse after January blaze

South African parliament building safe from collapse after January blaze

A preliminary evaluation suggests that the South African parliament building is secure and not in danger of collapsing following the terrible fire that devoured it.

This was discovered on Friday when the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) updated Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management on the status of the independent evaluation of the fire damage caused by the development firm Coega corporation.

A joint statement by presiding officers and the department said: “Current structural damage does not pose a risk of the collapse of the buildings”.

It says there is however severe structural damage to the central structure from the second floor to the sixth.

“Urgent work is required to make parts of the Old Assembly safe to exterior walls and to provide a temporary roof to prevent rain causing damage to lower floors.”

The Coega team completed the bulk of the preliminary assessment to:

  • Assess the fire-damaged buildings in the precinct to pronounce the extent of the damage
  • Provide professional advice on the safety of the structures.
  • Provide measures to temporarily make the structure safe to allow the investigations to proceed unhindered

Coega said that “urgent work is required to make parts of the Old Assembly safe to exterior walls and to provide a temporary roof to prevent rain causing damage to lower floors.”

According to the entity, the damage assessment status is as follows:

  • Loose debris material (roof sheeting, ceiling boards, etc.) on the roof level and 5th floor must immediately be removed which may blow off during windy days and poses a risk.
  • Water in the basement delayed the Final Initial Assessment Phase 1 conclusion
  • HAWKS and fire forensic investigation must first be completed before Phase 2 (final assessment report) can commence
  • Making safe the National Assembly fire-damaged areas to immediately start after the HAWKS and other investigations

It said that phase 2 of the report submission is envisaged by early May 2022 (subject to completion of investigation by Hawks by 1 April 2022)

“The restoration project will commence as soon as all the internal project registration processes have been completed.”

A report by the Sunday Times back in January revealed that the national assembly building was not insured, which leaves the massive costs to rebuild on the shoulders of taxpayers.

Experts estimated that repairs could cost at least R1 billion.

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