Lawmakers may soon return to their parliamentary offices after the devastating fire last year, and this time they’ll walk into brand new offices retrofitted with hybrid boardrooms and corporate style finishes to give it a "corporate look".
On Friday, the Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament received a briefing from project managers leading the restoration work on the burned-out buildings and offices.
The parliamentary precinct resembles a massive construction site as work is under way (and on track) at the National Assembly’s new wing and the Old Assembly, while new offices for MPs are just about complete.
According to project manager Simon Mashigo, all the work should be completed by the end of this month.
New additions MPs will enjoy:
- Two meeting rooms;
- Three pause areas with kitchenettes;
- Two reception areas;
- Three storerooms;
- The refurbishment of HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system;
- 20 interpretation booths and two sign language studios.
With the exception of the HVAC system, all the work has been completed. The HVAC system will be completed by 30 September.
Expenditure for the project includes R66 913 792.62 for construction work and the HVAC system, while R10 709 276 was spent on office furniture.
"A vinyl floor, wallpaper were fitted with new lighting at the lift lobbies. The lift lobby opens to a mini reception area. This is intended to give professional support to members’ visitors. To be used as a mini-information hub for visitors while waiting for members. The two wings of the offices are divided by fire doors in line with NBR. The fire detection system runs on corridors, offices and common spaces," Mashigo said.
Furthermore, he said the boardrooms had been fitted with hybrid meeting equipment.
"Finishes in offices align to the corporate brand. The furniture has a more corporate look to promote professionalism. The common spaces allow ease of movement and navigation during emergencies. The pause areas also give privacy and can be used for caucuses should boardrooms not be available. The ablutions meet the NBR and Public Work Norms for Prestige Facilities," he added.
On 2 January 2022, a fire ripped through the National Assembly, destroying the main hall, committee rooms and some parliamentary offices.
In October last year, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced that R2-billion had been allocated for the repair and refurbishment of Parliament over the next three years.
Parliament has partnered with the Development Bank of Southern Africa to assist with the multibillion-rand project.
Mashigo said the project team was also addressing non-compliance issues, dilapidated infrastructure and design constraints of existing infrastructure.
"This is intended to avoid failures on future operation of assets. Recommendations are being made to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) to note weakness in the systems and provide solutions," he said.
Several MPs from Democratic Alliance and African National Congress raised concerns about the poor state of the parliamentary fencing, but Mashigo said those issues would be addressed as construction progresses.
The Economic Freedom Fighters raised concerns about rubble removal, saying that rubble cannot be stored for long periods of time.