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Wednesday Jul 03, 2013

Explosive end looms for Munitoria

Twelve seconds. This is how long it will take to implode the former Pretoria municipal headquarters building, Munitoria, beginning at noon on Sunday.

Part of the former municipal headquarters, Munitoria, is wrapped in a blast curtain ready for the implosion on Sunday at noon.

All 120 000 tons of concrete will come down, with the 44-year-old building, a landmark in Tshwane, making way for the new Tshwane House development planned as part of the metro's programme to regenerate the inner city.

Yesterday, representatives of the City of Tshwane and Draco Demolitions, who will oversee the implosion, met residents and business owners in the area to discuss the final arrangements for the longawaited implosion.

Electronic explosives have been placed in about 1 000 columns in the empty building and will be set off from west to east (from Lilian Ngoyi Street to Sisulu Street).

The building's dividing walls, windows and fittings have been removed and only the shell remains - covered in hessian-like sheeting.

According to Teddy Habib of Draco Demolitions, the top four floors will collapse on top of each other and from there the building will fall to the side, collapsing in the open area on Johannes Ramokhoase (previously Proes) street.

Streets within a two-block radius will be cordoned off, barring members of the public from coming near the building.

Sniffer dogs will be used to ensure there are no people in the surrounding buildings.

Only certain, accredited employees of the Reserve Bank and Intelligence Services will be allowed into the zone because their activities are of national importance.

All other businesses and buildings will be closed down from 7am until after 5pm.

"We want absolute control of the site. There will be no life on the site," said project manager Peter Aborn.

City manager Jason Ngobeni said business activity on a Sunday was minimal, which was why this day had been chosen for the implosion.

"The impact on business will be small. Please bear with us," he said at a meeting between the city and stakeholders of the area yesterday.

The Tshwane Metro Police Department will patrol the area to ensure residents and members of the public are out of harm's way.

"We will deploy a substantial number of metro police officers for the day. We do not want to read that someone died, on the front page of the paper the next day," Ngobeni said.

An all-clear signal will be audible within kilometres of the building and will announce the implosion.

Habib and other on-site contractors will press the button to implode the building.

It is expected the noise of the demolition will be heard from as far as 5km away - the noise level is expected to be 140 000 decibels.

Habib said there would be a slight vibration in the immediate area, but it would be contained within the cordoned-off area. It is expected a cloud of dust will hang over the building site for about 40 minutes.

"We have a rainmaking machine to minimise the dust," said Habib.

He suggested that the surrounding buildings' air conditioning vents be closed to prevent dust damaging the systems.

The closed streets are expected to be reopened by 5.30pm on Sunday.

"This is assuming that nothing untoward happens," said Aborn.

Debris from the implosion that may end up on the surrounding streets will be removed immediately after the demolition by a clean-up team.

Aborn said it would take more than two months to remove the rubble from the site.

Ngobeni encouraged the public to view the implosion from a safe distance and be part of the experience. There will be no public viewing platform within a two-block radius of the site.

"Bring your camp chair and come watch it with your family," Ngobeni said.

High-resolution video footage and still images would be taken of the implosion to record the event.

"We want to create durable history because this is the closing of a chapter in the city," Ngobeni said.

A good viewing spot would be the Union Buildings. The Pretoria zoo says the viewing platform at the lion enclosure is the best vantage point from which to see the implosion. Certain species at the zoo will be held in their night enclosures for the duration of the implosion because they are sensitive to noise.

Veterinarians will be on site to assist if the animals are distressed.

Pretoria News


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