Transnet seeks to rent new lavish offices

Transnet owns the Carlton Centre building which it plans to vacate for renovations. /Muntu Vilakazi
Transnet owns the Carlton Centre building which it plans to vacate for renovations. /Muntu Vilakazi

Transnet executives have come under fire for their plans to ditch the Johannesburg CBD for the upmarket Waterfall precinct in Midrand.

The freight rail, state-owned company's headquarters are currently based at the Carlton Centre, a building the company owns.

On Friday during a meeting with the Transnet board and management at the Carlton Centre, MPs questioned why the company was seeking to move to rented office space.

"We heard yesterday that you own this building but you want to go lease another building because there is a problem of maintenance with this building," said ANC MP Nthabiseng Khanou during the visit at the centre by the standing committee on public accounts.

"Let us get a list of all the assets that Transnet owns, including this building, and actually check what is the maintenance value or how much are you going to spend to maintain this building instead of going to lease other property without properly looking at what you have and what you can do to maintain this to the value and the standard that you want it to be.

"If you can get that, liabilities of the company, the loans that you have said you have.

"That will help us with your contract management, the lenders and how much you are paying and interests thereof so that we can look into that and so that you can plan before the end of the term."

Transnet COO Mlamuli Buthelezi defended the decision to look for new office space. "The trigger here is that the Carlton Centre was opened in 1972," he said, adding that the air-conditioning systems and lifts were very old. "Maintenance has been done and these things now are beyond their lifespan. We have had people getting stuck in lifts here."

Buthelezi said Transnet would only vacate Carlton Centre for three years while renovations were carried out.

"It is purely based on health and safety and there are inspector reports that have said we can no longer keep people in the kind of lifts here where they get stuck. It is only a matter of time before something serious happens," he said.

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