City’s one-stop shop plan - Seven-storey building to cater for all business units

2013-09-16 00:00

AN ambitious plan by Pietermaritzburg to build a multi-million-rand seven-storey municipal control centre is under way.

Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said the building will cater for all the business units in the city and be a one-stop shop for ratepayers.

Once completed, it is set to change the face of Freedom Square as it will be a landmark building for the city. It will be situated next to the new taxi rank, opposite the Premier’s Office, and built on an underground parking lot.

Nkosi described the project as a joint venture between the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN) and the Pietermaritzburg Urban Renewal Programme, which is aimed at beautifying the capital city.

Mayor Chris Ndlela said they were going to use the multi-billion rand IRPTN to piggyback on the development of this project.

According to Ndlela, the consultation processes with all the relevant transport associations, including the taxi industry, were ongoing and have been running smoothly.

Although Nkosi said it was still too early to pin down actual costs, he estimated the actual building without fittings would cost around R15 million.

He said before the building is erected they would first have to build between 850 and 1 000 underground parking bays. “This will cater for the city’s lack of parking space in the CBD and will be built as part of the control centre,” he said.

Nkosi said there were four areas that they wanted to develop — the city, people, business and public transport.

He said they were looking at going to tender in the next six months. “After that process of when the actual construction will begin, will be determined by the procurement processes,” he said.

Despite an assurance from the mayor that there was consultation between the municipality and the taxi industry on the IRPTN, opposition parties have expressed concerns.

DA chief whip, councillor Roger Ashe, said the main issue is to ensure that taxi owners are on board.

Ashe said a number of such initiatives in other cities had failed because the taxi industry had not been properly consulted during the initial stages of the project.

“If the taxi industry is consulted, then it can go well, provided that the tender process is transparent and fair to those bidding,” said Ashe.

IFP caucus leader Dolo Zondi said that the taxi industry should be part of these developments as the IRPTN would affect mainly them.

“We welcome the developments if the taxi industry is catered for.

“We support the idea of a one-stop shop in the city centre, but we hope that will not mean that satellite municipal offices in rural areas will be shut down, because we serve the poorest of the poor,” he said.

NFP caucus leader Ntokozo Bhengu said they support the initiative because it would bring services together in one place. “We want the tender process to be open and transparent and particularly the taxi industry, because they are the people who will influence the success of the IRPTN,” he said. Bhengu said Pietermaritzburg central had a problem with parking space and this initiative was going to address it.

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