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Old dame receives her makeover

The old South African Police Service (SAPS) storage facilities in Cape Town, Western Cape, have undergone important upgrades that have given them a completely new lease on life.

This extensive overhaul was driven by the South African Department of Public Works (DPW), which nominated JG Afrika as the structural and civil engineer on the R100-million project.

The leading firm of consulting engineers and environmental scientists started working on the design in 2014, before providing specialist project management services during the construction phases.
Works commenced in July 2015 and practical completion was in April 2017 with the professional team finalising minor “snags” ahead of the completion of the works in June 2017.

Government, as the client, certainly has a lot to be proud of, especially the facility’s new roof-top solar photovoltaic (PV) system installation, making this the first DPW-administered building to feature such technology. A total of 600m² of solar panels were installed that have a capacity to generate 100kW of clean power for the operations, supplementing its electricity supply from the national grid.
Tim Davidson, a technical director at JG Afrika, believes that this may be the precursor of more solar-based embedded generation projects by the department, reinforcing government’s own commitment to carbon-mitigation strategies in the country.

“This is a very positive step taken by government, considering the extent of its property portfolio, which provides immense potential to introduce more clean energy to South Africa’s national grid,” says Davidson, who also has a strong track-record working on successful flagship solar projects in the country, including landmark utility-scale solar projects.

The solar panels were installed on top of the new roof structures that were designed by JG Afrika as part of the main works associated with the upgrade.

They have replaced about 18 600m² of damaged roofing that was originally installed when the three warehouses were first built in the 1960s.

The existing structures with their internal valleys and elevated ridges were removed, and the roofing reshaped to form an apex, addressing the severe leakages experienced at the facilities over the years, while increasing available storage space and significantly extending maintenance intervals.

Considering the size of the three hangars with the main warehouse measuring 188m x 60m, this was an extensive undertaking that involved large quantities of building materials, including structural steel and IBR sheeting.

The professional team also had to pay meticulous attention to strict regulations, as well as the Occupational Health & Safety Act to ensure the health and safety of staff directly handling the large quantities of deteriorating asbestos roofing materials.

Closely associated with this aspect of the work scope was the complete replacement of the existing fire-reticulation and smoke-detection systems in the buildings.

Davidson says that the extent of this component of the project became apparent during the design of the new roof structure. This led to the department also appointing JG Afrika as the principal agent to effectively manage and co-ordinate the multiple specialist consulting and contracting activities that were required to successfully undertake a project of this magnitude.

They would also have to be coordinated in an operational area, requiring extensive upfront planning and preparation to minimise disruption in the complex, while ensuring a safe and productive construction site.
All SAPS staff had to be relocated and the warehouse contents, including vehicles, uniforms and stationary, removed before activities could commence at the various construction faces.

Meanwhile, the civil contractors started extending the external paved areas to improve vehicular access and storage capacity, as well as building a new 600m long boundary wall along the perimeter of the complex as a security upgrade.

The professional team maintained a swift production rate to ensure the timely completion of the project – an achievement Davidson attributes to the appointment of a competent and experienced resident engineer (RE) on the project.

“We nominated Richard Karsen as our RE on this project. Richard has extensive experience managing people, and nurtured a very close working relationship with the various contracting staff on this site. These attributes, when combined with solid team dynamics between the consulting engineer, contractors and an extremely supportive client, certainly contributed towards yet another successful JG Afrika project,” he concludes.

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