Go-ahead for Bhisho office zone

Mega office project is expected to commence early next year

Major plans lined up for Bhisho.
Major plans lined up for Bhisho.
Image: File

Buffalo City Metro council has approved the sale of 2.1 hectares of land ahead of the construction of the much-anticipated Bhisho office precinct, which is to accommodate seven provincial government departments.

The land will be sold for R1.26-million after the BCM council recently approved the recommendations by its department of spatial planning and development.

It will be sold to the Eastern Cape department of public works, which is in charge of the mega project expected to commence early next year.

According to public works spokeswoman Vuyokazi Mbanjwa, the tender for the construction will be issued in August.

“It is envisaged that construction will commence in early 2019,” Mbandjwa said.

In the report tabled before council, BCM head of spatial planning and development Nonceba Mbali-Majeng said the land was a portion of the site where the House of Traditional Leaders was built.

She said the department of public works had constructed the house on a portion of the remainder of erf 4785 in Bhisho without following due process.

The 2.1ha is the remainder of 11.3ha after the other 9.2ha were sold to the department for R1.8-million.

“The total selling price is R3.1million excluding VAT and costs,” said Mbali-Majeng, adding that failure to sell the land to the department would result in delaying the Bhisho office precinct development.

Although the BCM council approved the land purchase for “a new office for the premier and office block”, Mbanjwa said: “We will not be building the premier’s office but rather an office precinct that will accommodate a number of provincial departments.

“The House of Traditional Leaders forms part of the land that was acquired.

“It will be subdivided into two separate erven due to the type of public private partnership contractual requirements for the Bhisho office precinct.

“The current office of the premier (OTP) is not included in the Bhisho office precinct. There are no immediate plans to move the OTP from where it is currently located.”

The departments to be accommodated in the precinct are transport, economic development & environment affairs, social development, rural development & agrarian reform, safety & liaison, human settlements, and sports, recreation arts & culture.

BCM’s spatial planning and development portfolio head councillor, Pumla Nazo-Makatala, said: “The metro will benefit from this development from rates to be paid to us but most importantly this will boost the economy.

“Currently in Bhisho there is no development, it is quiet.

“The development will also improve the face of the city.

“If you improve the face of the city, the rates will also go up.”

However, DA BCM councillor Bill Gould said: “We questioned why this was a matter of exigency which did not follow the normal council process of proceeding to council through the mayoral committee.

“Why was there a rush to complete the transfer by June 30 2018?

“The report to council provided no assurances that there would be compliance with BCM’s asset transfer regulations.”