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Monday Mar 10, 2014

Tshwane House: have your say

Tshwane residents have four weeks to comment on the draft agreement for Tshwane House, the proposed R2 billion municipal headquarters at the site of the former Munitoria in the city centre.

The draft agreement and all applicable schedules are available at all of the City of Tshwane's 57 branch libraries, seven regional offices and on the municipality website.

The public comment period will close at midnight on April 4, and the matter will be discussed at a council meeting in May.

'The Tshwane House PPP (public-private partnership) agreement and schedules will remain in developing draft form until full and final action by the council of the city at a formal meeting - open to the public - approving the final draft between the City of Tshwane and Tsela Tshweu Consortium,' the city said.

'Comments will be recorded in a formal register on public comment and will be considered in preparing the final draft agreement.'

Preparatory bulk earth works have been under way since the beginning of the month.

The site - with the former Munitoria remnants now demolished - is bounded by Sisulu, Madiba, Lilian Ngoyi and Johannes Ramokhoase streets.

The early works were approved by the council as part of its in-principle approval of the project granted in August 2006, with authorisation of the city manager.

The first two years of the 27-year public-private partnership agreement constitute the construction period, during which the city will have no payment obligations.

The Tshwane House building complex, to be handed back to the city at the end of the 27 years, will have no deferred maintenance burdens, and a renewed life cycle extending for five years beyond expiry of the public-private partnership, as a capital asset of the city.

The genesis of the Tshwane House project was the March 3, 1997, fire that destroyed the west wing of Munitoria.

The west wing accommodated most of the city's senior staff.

It was effectively the 'strong centre', equivalent to what the city now seeks to establish in the new Tshwane House.

The west wing also included a large rates hall at ground-floor level.

Although the fire was a key moment, the real driver of the project was the realisation that Munitoria - which was built in 1946 - had fallen short of its original role as the home of all the city's operating units.

The council chamber, designed to seat 82, was already packed beyond its intended capacity.

The mayor's office could also no longer be housed within the structure.

The city is determined, in respect of Tshwane House, not to repeat planning mistakes that made Munitoria effectively obsolete before the fire.

Starting with 250 council seats, with the possibility of adding more, it is expected to be adequate for immediate needs, but the municipality may one day have to be expanded further.

After the 1997 fire, several initiatives ensued to consolidate staff for efficiency reasons, and to pursue a central business district revitalisation plan from the State Theatre to Church Square.

The construction of Tshwane House is part of Tshwane Vision 2055 and the systematic regeneration programme of building an inner city of the future.

This was in line with one of the goals of Tshwane Vision 2055, namely to create a safe city, the council said.

Explosives were attached to about 1 000 columns of Munitoria at the time of its implosion and the charges went off in sequence to destroy the building.

Pretoria News

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