Clean-up phase almost complete at Old Prison Building

The completion of the clean-up phase will finally enable Project Gateway, the organization that oversees the running of the building, to estimate the real damage and loss due to the fire. While the fire department salvaged most of the equipment, a large part of the structure of the building was lost.

Di Milford, general manager of Donor Marketing and Public Relations department at Project Gateway said that while they have received a unified response from all relevant stakeholders to try and get the building cleaned up, funding has been an issue. “Funds remain a challenge as the clean-up costs are very high as well as the other expected costs.  We will submit a funding appeal once an assessment has been done of the expected expenditure,” she said.

Costs to repair some parts of the building are expected to be in the millions. “The rebuilding of the roof and the refurbishing of the interior in accordance with AMAFA requirements will be the main costs. We think this will run into millions of rands,” she said.

Prior to the fire, there were possible plans to turn the building into a four star hotel and to alter the cells into an art gallery. These plans have now been stalled. “We are looking at completing a business plan for the future use of the building. This will be made public once the plan has received the executive Board approval. However at this stage the understanding is that the building might be used as an art gallery and an extension tour existing Museum,” she said.

This year the organisation’s main priority will be “restoring the building to its original state.”

Thembalethu Zakwe

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