State has spent R2.3m for utilities on burnt office building
THE GAUTENG government has spent more than R2.3 million paying the city of Joburg rates and utilities for the vacant Bank of Lisbon (BoL) building.
The building, which used to house three government departments, caught fire a year ago, leading to the evacuation of staff and the death of three firefighters.
Though the building has been stripped of electricity wires, it’s biggest monthly expense is the electricity bill of about R141 000 a month.
The building is being prepared for demolition later this year. Contractors on site use big industrial generators for their power supply but still use the building’s water supply.
In answering questions in the Gauteng Legislature, MEC for Infrastructure Development and Property Management Tasneem Motara broke down the monthly costs for the BoL: R141 000 for electricity, R42 000 for water and R12000 for rates.
Motara said: “We pay rates and taxes because the building is still there. Rates and taxes are for land use and not necessarily utilities.”
She confirmed that the building still had a water source but no electricity.
Motara said the department paid all the bills they received. “We cannot sit and not pay the bills because if we don’t we get charged interest. What we do is we pay and lodge complaints with the city to try and get a refund.”
The city’s finance department could not comment on the billing because they did not have the BoL’s account number.
Motara said the department was on a campaign to challenge municipalities’ billing systems. “We are challenging the billing of some of our buildings. We have selected, together with provincial treasury, five buildings per metro to challenge the bills we are getting.”
She could not reveal the names of the buildings yet, but said they could include schools and hospitals.
Motara, who just celebrated 100 days in office, said that of the 18 buildings the provincial office owned in the city, they only occupied nine because of compliance issues.
In the papers filed at the Labour Court, Maroleng argued that Makhathini acted improperly by barring him from appealing internally. He said Maroleng was barred from appealing because he was an executive director.
“Please be advised that there is no internal appeal for dismissed executive directors, as the dismissal is effected by the accounting authority,” wrote Makhathini.
Maroleng challenged this position: “SABC’s disciplinary code and procedure does not provide that there is no internal appeal for executive directors.”
SABC did not respond last night. Additional reporting by Tebogo Monama |
THE desolate Bank of Lisbon building. |
FORMER SABC COO Chris Maroleng