MP’s have been told the National Assembly suffered severe structural damage, concrete floors have crumbled, mosquitos are breeding in millions of litres of water that still remains in the flooded lower basement, and there are fears that a rotten egg smell through the new assembly is caused by highly flammable hydrogen sulphide.

These are just some of the findings of engineers from the Coega Development Corporation which on Friday presented their initial assessment of the damage caused by the fire that ravaged Parliament on 2 January.

The Corporation was appointed by the Public Works and Infrastructure Department to assess the fire damage and develop a renovation plan.

The presentation was led by Christo Beukes, the programme manager.

Beukes revealed that:

  • There is “severe structural damage to the central concrete structure of the National Assembly from the 2nd floor to the 6th floor;
  • The temperature in the National Assembly entrance lobby reached an estimated 900ºC. As a result metal ducting and copper wiring melted;
  • Heat generated when the massive wooden speaker’s podium went up in flames caused “extremely significant damage” to the concrete floor above it;
  • Floors sagged by as much as 70mm as concrete slabs crumbled, and walls were left with cracks of about 30mm;
  • The lower basement was found to be flooded to a depth of more than 1.7m with an estimated 4.2-million litres of water. “Huge breeding of mosquitoes” took place in the water;
  • There are fears that a rotten-egg smell through the new assembly building is caused by highly flammable hydrogen sulphide.

The water is currently being pumped into the City’s sewer system.

Once the basement is accessible, Beukes says the smell of gas would be investigated and remedied, and debris will be removed from the destroyed roof.

A 1.8-metre security hoarding is to be built around the National Assembly.

Coega’s next job is to produce a detailed assessment of the damage, which will cover the residual strength of the structure of the uninsured buildings as well as proposals and cost estimates for repairs.

Sections of the National Assembly has been blocked off
Sections of the National Assembly have been deemed no go zones. Pic: Coega Development Corporation
Wall crack on the 4th floor of the National Assembly building
A 30mm wall crack on the 4th floor of the National Assembly. Pic: Coega Development Corporation
The flooded National Assembly basement
The flooded National Assembly basement. Pic: Coega Development Corporation

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President Cyril Ramaphosa says the work of Parliament will continue despite the devastating fire that broke out, in the historic complex yesterday.

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IN PICS: Parliament fire causes significant damage, 49 year old man to appear in court tomorrow

Transnet has announced the immediate suspension of all Blue Train services.

The suspension came into effect yesterday.

Last week, operations were also halted after a fire broke out in one of the coaches of the Blue Train.

Services were also halted late last year after the train was involved in an accident.

Transnet spokesperson Ayanda Shezi says the aim is to reinstate services as soon as possible.

Get the latest updates here.

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A fire broke out in the early hours of Sunday morning (06 February 2022) in the basement of St George’s Cathedral in the Cape Town City Centre. This was confirmed on social media by the Dean of the Cathedral, Reverend Michael Weeder.

Weeder wrote: “The fire was an act of arson. It appears that a lit piece of cotton/gauze was thrown through the small, barred window near the steps leading up to the cathedral’s Wale Street entrance. Someone was spotted running away from the cathedral…The burglar bar had to be broken so that the firefighters could gain access. The cloister area door also had to be broken open as at one stage, the firefighters thought the fire was actually inside the cathedral. A police docket has been opened and an investigation (is) in progress.”

Cape Town Fire Services confirmed the incident at the Anglican Cathedral, but not the cause of the blaze.

Shortly after the fire, Weeder said that initial inspections showed there was no major damage to the Cathedral but that they still needed to gain access to the basement to be able to confirm the extent of the damage.