Independent team to assess fire damage to Parliament buildings | Infrastructure news

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure appoints an independent team to assess fire damage to Parliamentary buildings affected by the January fire

On 7 January 2022, Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille issued a statement with regard to a team of professionals that would be deployed to conduct an assessment of the damage to Parliamentary buildings from the fire which occurred on 2 and 3 January 2022.

The professional team comprising of Structural, Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical engineers conducted and concluded a high level preliminary visual assessment of the damages including the safety aspect of the site due.

The professional team’s visual assessment started with the Old National Assembly and then proceeded to assess the structural damages to the New National Assembly.

On the basis of the preliminary visual inspections, there was evidence of severe structural damage (major spalling) to the slabs. The slabs affected by the damage are the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floor. In addition, there were major cracks in the walls on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

The professional team advised that the New Assembly Building is unsafe and should be cordoned off and closed in order to restrict access.

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) then activated appropriate steps for the procurement of an independent specialist engineering team to conduct further detailed assessments and testing of material strength.

National Treasury agreed to expedite the process to procure the independent specialist engineering team as expeditiously as possible.

DPWI’s Bid Evaluation Committee recommended COEGA be appointed for the independent assessment.

In close consultation with National Treasury, on Friday 11 February 2022, DPWI appointed the COEGA Development Cooperation to perform assessments of the fire-damaged buildings at Parliament.

Following the DPWI Engineering Services’ recommendation that specialised structural engineering assessment work is undertaken in order for the buildings to be made safe for access, a scope of works was generated from the DPWI’s Engineering Services team for this work.

The scope of work for the assessment by COEGA includes:

  • Assessment of the fire-damaged buildings in the parliamentary precinct to pronounce on the extent of the damage
  • Provide professional advice on the safety of the structures.
  • Provide measures to temporarily make the structure safe to allow the investigations to proceed unhindered

  • Initial Assessment Report: Upon completion of the assessment, the service provider is to submit a report within one week of the appointment that must cover the following aspects:
  • Damage report indicating the extent of the structural damage and any other structural issues
  • Pronouncement on the safety aspects of the structure
  • Advice on short term measures to address any safety concerns
  • Provide a proposed program for completing detailed assessment report
Detailed assessment report

Following the submission of the initial assessment report, the service provider must submit a detailed assessment report that covers the following aspects:

  • Detailed assessment report indicating the extent of the damage and any other structural issues.
  • Pronouncement on the residual strength of the structure (including all relevant tests and analysis)
  • Proposed restorative measures with associated cost comparisons for restoration
  • Proposed estimate of the rehabilitation project
  • Proposed preliminary cost estimate of the rehabilitation project
  • Pronouncement on possible long term restorative measures
I am pleased that the appointment is now finalised as I am eager to see the teams get to work and provide detailed assessments of the damage, rehabilitation and restorative measures and restoration costs.

I am grateful to the officials at National Treasury for their advice and support to DPWI to finalise the appointment of this team of assessors and have impressed on the department to ensure that the work is conducted thoroughly and as soon as possible.

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