The Tshwane metro said it had no choice but to fix up a “catastrophic” R100-million renovation job done on the city hall in the centre of Pretoria under the previous administration, reports Pretoria East Rekord.
The city hall, located on Visagie Street and Paul Kruger Street, has been fenced off in its entirety as plans to refurbish it kicked off in July for the 2019/20 financial year.
“An assessment on what needs to be done is underway,” said Tshwane metro spokesperson Lindela Mashigo.
The total cost of renovations would only be determined once the evaluation was completed.
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“The renovations could take 2-3 years to complete.”
This after claims by the metro that previous renovations to the hall were a “waste” of millions of rands.
In 2016, then mayor Solly Msimanga blamed the office of former mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa for the allegedly shoddy renovations made to the hall.
“The council initially wanted to restore city hall, but on a low budget,” said Msimanga’s then spokesperson, Matthew Gerstner, at the time.
“Ramokgopa’s office then hijacked the project to build luxurious offices behind council’s back without the knowledge of the chief financial officer and national treasury.”
In October of that year, Msimanga took journalists on a tour of the hall to show them several on-site “irregularities” by the contractor, such as broken wooden floors.
The hall’s historic organ also suffered serious damage; the repairs of which would cost at least R18 million.
Gerstner claimed Ramokgopa’s office selected the contractor without a budget.
“The contractor dictated what the budget should be. The contractor was not even qualified to do the job.”
The walls were painted before the hall was completed. Attempts were then made to install smoke detectors and cameras, but this work was never finished.
There were also indications that contract workers decided to pour cement over a wooden floor. In the main hall‚ the seats in the balcony were all stolen, as were most door handles made of brass.
On the second floor, holes were drilled for cables in ways that compromised the building’s structural integrity.
In the old Pretoria council chamber, heritage paintings have been spoiled by careless paintwork.
The condition of the hall was so bad that six companies withdrew their applications to film in this room, said the mayor’s office senior strategic executive specialist Pieter de Necker at the time.
At the time, Msimanga told reporters that “we will get to the bottom of this”.
“People will have to be held accountable,” he said.
Msimanga at the time said that metro officials implicated in the city hall upgrade would face a disciplinary inquiry.
In a 2016 statement, acting mayoral spokesperson Matthew Gerstner said some of these officials included two senior directors who served former mayor Ramokgopa’s office.
Mayoral spokesperson Omogolo Taunyane, however, told Pretoria East Rekord this week that the metro had no details regarding such investigations.