City of Joburg seeking alternative office space as Metro Centre temporarily shuts after recent fire

A fire broke out on the ground floor of the City of Johannesburg council building last month. File photo.
A fire broke out on the ground floor of the City of Johannesburg council building last month. File photo.

Johannesburg's municipality is seeking alternative office space for its 3,000 employees to minimise service disruption as it temporarily shuts the Braamfontein Metro Centre, the city's administrative building.

Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda said the metro could not risk the lives and wellbeing of employees as he confirmed a precautionary decision had been taken to close the building.

A section of the building caught fire last month due to a faulty transformer and had to be closed. The Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) issued a notice calling on the city manager to immediately vacate all staff from different blocks of the building and parking levels.

Gwamanda said the B-Block and council chamber wing buildings have been without power since then, due to electrical faults on the four transformers that feed the centre. 

“The city commissioned a professional team to conduct a comprehensive diagnosis of the four transformers and to provide a report. The report received confirms what has been a known challenge, fear and fact. The buildings transformers have outlived their useful life.

“The Metro Centre has been a point of concern for some time. The building is over 50 years old and the transformers are over 40 years old. The building houses the City of Johannesburg's executive, its legislature and several core departments. It provides various essential services to members of the public on a daily basis. The building also houses about 3,000 city employees,” he said.

He said a building as old as the Metro Centre requires major refurbishment every 15 years to keep its structural integrity and operating components up to standard with applicable occupational health and safety standards. 

“There are also a host of legislation and regulations in place that further pronounces on building standards and infrastructure requirements that when complied with certify a building for occupancy. In this regard, the Metro Centre falls short,” he added.

In 2019, the city commissioned a report into the state of the Metro Centre. The report was presented to the council and it flagged several structural, mechanical and electrical concerns. The report concluded the building was uninhabitable.

Gwamanda said the office of the city manager and the relevant departments are finalising business continuity measures to minimise disruption to city services.


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