Anchen Dreyer MP

DA Shadow Minister for Public Works

A total amount of R 233,5 million over a three year period has been allocated for the rehabilitation of the dilapidated old Police Barracks in Marshall Street in downtown Johannesburg.

While an undisclosed amount has been allocated in the current financial year for designs and documentation for rehabilitation works, an amount of R53.1 million has been allocated in the next financial year for consultants and a contractor for the commencement of rehabilitation works on the building. This emerged from a written reply by the Minister for Public Works, Thulas Nxesi, to a question I sent through to his department in Parliament.

While the reply provides welcome news, it is not clear what the building will be used for and when the refurbishments will be completed. It is also not clear what amount the Department owes the Johannesburg Metro for rates and taxes. I will follow this up with further questions to clarify the situation and to enable me to monitor progress on the site.

The Marshall Street Police Barracks in Marshall Street have been vacant and subsequently vandalised for more than a decade; in 2002 the already damaged building was almost completely destroyed by a fire. While it is legally protected by the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999, the National Department of Public Works has been negligent in its duty and has allowed the building to deteriorate to such an extent that is now practically in ruins.

When I visited the building in June this year, it was clear that the building is an eyesore in an area that has otherwise been refurbished by the private sector; with many previously abandoned buildings now being put to good use. It is a shame that the National Department of Public Works has through sheer neglect allowed a national asset to go to waste.

By highlighting the issue and applying pressure on the minister, the DA managed to get a commitment that this once beautiful building will be restored to its previous condition. However, we will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the department follows through with this plan.

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