South Africa

White elephant building complex in Pretoria to house police headquarters soon

The Telkom north towers complex in Pretoria central will soon house the SAPS headquarters.

Authorities recently identified the the R600-million building located at 152 Johannes Ramokhoase Street suitable for this purpose.

Minister for Public Works (DPWI) Sihle Zikalala gave the planned move the green light during his visit to inspect the building following the conclusion of much needed renovations.

The building will accommodate the minister, national commissioner and other police executives, according to DPWI.

The building had been a white elephant since it was bought about nine years ago when renovation suddenly started last year in preparation for the police to move in.

The department blamed aged ventilation systems and other issues for the delayed start of renovation work.

Also last year, parliament was told that no direct funding to carry out the work at that stage was available.

According to a SAPS migration report into Telkom Towers in Junes 2022, the other problems that caused the delay were:

– the local community forced a work stoppage for 13 days August 2019 as the project began allegedly unhappy that it had not been informed of its involvement and what it stood to benefit

– the public service commission stopped work for 127 days from November 2019 to July 2020 due to unhappiness with subcontractor appointments and the rate the contractor offered.

– a 42-day delay due to a value chain backlog in orders and steel shortages as well as delivery of iron monger for fire doors.

– delivery of international shipments due to Covid-19 lockdown imposed by government.

“I can confirm now that the building is compliant,” Zikalala said.

“We need to ensure that everything is in order for the occupation of the police hierarchy.”

Zikalala said additional SAPS needs would be accommodated with the development of other state-owned properties within the proximity of the complex.

The complex comprises 10 buildings that measure 221 954 square metres of lettable office accommodation with 2 234 parking bays.

“There is more than enough space to accommodate total requirements of the SAPS.”

He said government bought the complex for R645-million from the Telkom retirement fund when Telkom relocated its head office in 2015.

“It was procured to be used for housing government departments,” Zikalala said.

“The acquisition of the Telkom Towers buildings was envisioned to ensure the police are accommodated in a suitable office space which will not hinder their work and operations.

“The positives are to help government avoid fruitless expenditure associated with being held to ransom by unscrupulous landlords who charge the DPWI exorbitant rental prices which are way above market-related price.

“As a department, we are working to ensure that all long outstanding projects in this complex are finalised. The first pivotal point is to ensure that this building is functional, compliant and well-maintained.”

Zikalala urged his department to ensure that it speeds up the rate of getting other towers ready for occupation before the 2026 deadline.

The relocation of the SAPS to Telkom Towers is expected to terminate the following lease agreements the police currently has with landlords:

– Presidia Building: The lease expired on March 31, 2022 however was extended for 12 months with a condition that the lease will be terminated with a notice period of one month once Telkom Towers was ready for occupation.

– Veritas lease: The lease has been extended for beneficial occupation while alternative accommodation was sourced within the Telkom Tower precinct.

– La Rochelle Building: the lease expired on March 31, 2022 and was extended for 12 months but the building is still fully occupied by the SAPS.

– Opera Plaza Building.

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