Johannesburg – Going down? Maybe not. This is the question on many Joburgers’ minds as work under way at the burnt Bank of Lisbon building in the CBD indicates the ruined structure could be demolished. This, however, depends on whose account you believe.
The multi-storey building, a painful reminder of the tragedy in which three firefighters lost their lives, was sealed off after the inferno.
But lately it’s been a hive of activity, with the presence of construction vehicles and workmen suggesting that a demolition is on the horizon.
However, the provincial government said no such decision had been taken.
“They (Jet Demolition) are conducting an assessment and then they will report to us and once they report to us we will then decide on the next step based on their report,” said provincial government spokesperson Thabo Masebe.
But reports from the site indicated that the building was being readied for demolition. Last month, Africa News Agency quoted Jet Demolition’s Kenton Kahn as saying it was busy with preparations, adding that surrounding buildings “would be notified of the date of the actual demolition”.
Masebe said a process must be followed before a building is imploded, including informing nearby occupants as the building is in a busy area.
“They must not jump the gun. I’m not saying we are not going to demolish, but we are not talking about that now. Once we have seen the report, we will decide what to do next.”
The tragedy shone a spotlight on the lack of health and safety standard compliance in the ageing business district. The deadly fire led to the establishment of a high-level provincial occupational health and safety steering committee to oversee building safety.
The building is one of nine identified as not meeting basic occupational health and safety standards.