PARLIAMENT is going ahead with an ambitious project to build a lavish and larger debating chamber, a banqueting hall and VIP lounges for foreign dignitaries.
The project, with a price tag of at least R1.4-billion, is the brainchild of former speaker Baleka Mbete.
Negotiations began five years ago to acquire land and a number of buildings along Plein Street in Cape Town. New and expanded office space for administrative staff and extra parking space are part of the plan.
Deputy Speaker Nomaindia Mfeketo told the Sunday Times an initial slice of the budget had been allocated, which would get the ball rolling.
She said the project had been delayed by negotiations over whether parliament would remain permanently in Cape Town, as well as intensive talks with the owners of buildings earmarked to form part of the project.
“There is a budget but it will be in phases,” she said. “The last report we received was that they are going to start soon.”
A firm of architects and a surveyor appointed by the Department of Public Works in 2007 estimated the following project costs:
- R487-million for a 1500-seat joint chamber and banqueting facility;
- R312-million for a 16000m² office tower, restaurant and apartment complex;
- R68-million for a “pavilion building” and visitors’ centre;
- R275-million for a three-level basement;
- R174-million for furniture and finishes; and
- R111-million for external works such as demolition and landscaping.