Takgalang Consulting is in the process of drawing up the missing sections of Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital floor plans. The missing plans mean that one of Gauteng’s largest hospitals cannot be issued with a fire safety certificate, forcing the provincial department of infrastructure development to yet again delay the reopening of the healthcare facility.
The department says it is unable to provide a reopening date for the hospital, but the oncology unit is still expected to reopen on July 5.
“The plans will only be submitted to the City of Johannesburg once the service provider has completed the process,” department spokesperson Bongiwe Gambu said.
Gauteng authorities initially closed the hospital for seven days when parts of it were damaged by fire in April. Then it was announced that the oncology unit would reopen early this month, but that did not happen.
Gambu at the time said that “the delay was caused by the approval of the radiation and oncology unit by the City of Johannesburg, which was dependent on the acquisition of fire doors which were long lead items”.
While July 5 was set as the prospective reopening date for the oncology unit, it was contradicted by acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane on June 18 when she said that the hospital would reopen in phases starting this week.
READ: Charlotte Maxeke hospital reopening pushed back – again
Closed tender process ‘to circumvent corruption’
Takgalang Consulting is currently scanning and taking measurements of the hospital buildings before recreating the missing sections of the plans, Gambu told City Press on Wednesday.
She said that in an effort to mitigate corruption and wrongdoing, the process undertaken to appoint the service provider was through a closed tender.
“We invited service providers on our panel – grade 7, 8 and 9 contractors. After that the process underwent all the supply chain management requirements,” she explained.
The continued closure of Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital has raised concerns about the impact it has had on the public health system, as the province is currently in the thick of its third Covid-19 infections wave.
‘R23m goes up in flames’
On April 16, a blaze – in which an estimated R23 million worth of personal protective equipment and other medical items were destroyed – took hold of a section of Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital and a decision was subsequently made to shut it down and transfer patients to other medical facilities.
READ: Makhura calls for local state of disaster to reopen Charlotte Maxeke Hospital
Two months later and the hospital remains closed after it was revealed that lack of adequate structural plans delayed its reopening.
Kubayi-Ngubane last week said that “the other issue that was a challenge was around the fire doors that needed to be manufactured and that took longer because without those the certificates would have taken longer to be issued”.
‘Fire safety laws were different back then’
According to reports, a fire safety audit at the hospital was signed off weeks before the blaze tore through parts of the hospital.
The hospital fire and safety team also met in March, according to the Gauteng department of health.
Asked about how a fire safety audit was signed off in the absence of building plans, Gambu explained that this was due to the fact that the hospital is housed in an old building “which opened its doors in 1979”.
“At that time, the laws governing building plans were different to what is in place currently.”
“In particular, organs of state were not required to submit architectural plans to a local authority. The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act now requires all public, private and residential buildings to have approved plans, which are then submitted to the local authority [municipality].”
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Meanwhile, as hospital beds continue to be scarce, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital on Sunday experienced a “small fire breakout at its laundry area”. The hospital is under severe pressure as it has been forced to accommodate patients from Charlotte Maxeke.