City of Johannesburg Faces Disruption as Metro Centre Remains Closed

Council Building JHB

In a significant disruption to the functioning of the City of Johannesburg, the Metro Centre in Braamfontein has remained closed following a transformer explosion two weeks ago, which led to a fire outbreak. The closure has forced city councillors and staff to work remotely from their homes.

The Speaker of the Johannesburg Council, Colleen Makhubele, expressed concern about the safety of the Metro Centre, which serves as the nerve center of the municipality’s operations. The incident has not only affected the facility’s water and power supply but has also raised significant health and safety concerns for attendees, including councillors, officials, and residents.

The closure prompted the cancellation of a scheduled council meeting due to electrical faults and a water outage at the Braamfontein building. Makhubele stated that finding a suitable alternative for council activities has proved challenging, with potential venues either already booked or imposing exorbitant costs.

Makhubele noted that the safety issues surrounding the Metro Centre had been raised in 2022, and a plan to temporarily house staff during renovations was in discussion but not yet implemented. The Speaker indicated that a tender for alternative office space had been advertised, but the progress was being handled by the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC).

Due to load shedding, conducting virtual meetings was deemed impractical, further complicating the situation. The impact of the Metro Centre’s closure on council operations has been significant, with delays in reports and communication disruptions affecting employees working remotely.

While the City of Johannesburg grapples with these challenges, there is growing frustration among council members. Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, DA Johannesburg caucus leader, expressed concerns about the impact on the council’s work, the deprivation of public access to live broadcasts of meetings, and the delay in addressing pressing issues.

The closure of the Metro Centre raises questions about governance in Johannesburg, with some advocating for a fresh election to address systemic issues. As the situation unfolds, residents and stakeholders await further updates on when the Metro Centre will reopen and how the city plans to address its administrative and infrastructure challenges.

Efforts to reach the ANC, EFF, and PA for comments on the matter were unsuccessful at the time of writing.