R2bn new council building to arise in Pretoria

R2bn new council building to arise in Pretoria

Today, Munitoria's south block is a far cry from the showpiece it was when it opened its doors as headquarters of the then Pretoria City Council.

On July 7 the block will be imploded and 44 years of history will be reduced to a pile of rubble.

The south wing under construction in the 1960s.

Built in the 1960s, the official inauguration of Munitoria took place on February 28, 1969 and the first council meeting in the new council chamber took place that afternoon.

At the time, 17 high-speed lifts served Munitoria, making it the largest lift installation in the city, and one of the largest in the country.

The south wing was completed first in 1965 at a cost of R3 million.

Stocks & Stocks built the upper structure of the south block and Engel And Ruyter constructed the south block basement.

However, Munitoria's proud history came to an end on Monday, March 3, 1997 when the west wing, completed in 1968 at a cost of R9m, was gutted by fire.

More than 170 firefighters from the city and Swartkops AFB battled the blaze which raged throughout the night.

The fire started late in the afternoon in the licensing department, but the extent of the devastation was only visible at sunrise the next morning. The south wing was also shut down for days as authorities waited for the smoke to clear.

The west wing was imploded a year later, leaving a gaping hole on the site at the corner of Johannes Ramokhoase and Lilian Ngoyi streets.

The implosion of the west wing, as seen from the Union Buildings.

For years there was debate and lawsuits over the future of the site.

Tshwane Metro Council decided to demolish the south block and build new headquarters, to be known as Tshwane House, on the site.

The intention is to have headquarters which will house all council departments which have been accommodated in buildings throughout the city since the fire, and to have buildings which meet the demand placed on the municipality in the 21st century.

Council staff moved from the south block of Munitoria to nearby Isivuno Building at the corner of Madiba and Lilian Ngoyi streets earlier this year to allow contractors to "strip" the building before its implosion planned to take place later this month.

What the south wing looks like today.

Tshwane spokesman Blessing Manale said the implosion had been delayed mainly because of an assessment which established that the building contained asbestos.

"The country, in implementing a ban on asbestos use, also promulgated regulation for the dismantling, storage, disposal and transportation of material containing active, potential airborne, asbestos.

"The current Munitoria project has to comply with the ban and regulations on asbestos use," he said.

Manale said the implosion had been rescheduled for July 7.

"This will however not delay the completion of the new Munitoria House which is expected to take at least 18 months and be occupied by the first quarter of 2015."

The rubble from the implosion will be stored off site for use as landfill.

Tshwane House construction is estimated to cost R2 billion.

The contractor, Tsela Tshweu Investments, a consortium made up of Standard Bank, Nedbank, Group Five and smaller ventures, was handed the site in February.

Manale said the bridge over Madiba Street would not be removed.

"The design includes the retention of a strengthened and fortified crossover adjoining Sammy Marks and the council offices."

Pretoria News

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Denny Crane

Denny Crane
It's not me ... yet. Denny Crane from the TV series Boston Legal. Click on picture if you're not sure who he is!