The structurally unsafe Bank of Lisbon demolished after severe 2018 fire

Department of Infrastructure Development 03/12/2019 - 13:57

​The structurally unsafe Bank of Lisbon demolished after severe 2018 fire​​

By: Thomas Lethoba

Sunday 24 November 2019 marked a historic and sad occasion for the Immovable Register of Gauteng Provincial Government. The once iconic Bank of Lisbon Building located on Pixley ka Isaka Seme Street which has formed part of Johannesburg Central Business skyline for decades was demolished in a controlled implosion by commissioned experts. The demolition followed a report by engineers which indicated that the September 2018 fire which gutted several floors of the building had caused severe damaged and made it highly unsafe for occupation.

The building served as headquarters of both the Department of Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs and the Department of Health, and was one of 18 buildings owned by the province in the Joburg CBD. It accommodated one thousand one hundred and fifteen (1115) public servants until last year's fire which lasted for more than 24hours at the time. Three firefighters lost their lives on the day while trying to put out that fire. Both the province and the municipality have since paid tribute to the firefighters for their bravery. Family representatives were also present during Sunday's demolition.

The demolition was led by the Department of Infrastructure Development and Property Management who appointed Jet Demolition to implode the building in line with safety standards. Due to various risks associated with implosion, an exclusion zone was implemented to safeguard the public, with closest residents being prioritized and taken to safety a few blocks away until it was safe to return.

Observing the downfall of 31-storey building, was MEC Tasneem Motara, as well as Jet Demolition executives, Johannesburg Emergency Services officials and members of distinguished media.  Motara also addressed members of the media following the successful demolition. "The demolition went 100% successfully. There was no destruction of any property around the area and no one was injured. We are happy with the work done by Jet Demolition," said the MEC.

The clearing of the roads also started on the same day to ensure that the CBD is accessible and back to normal by Monday morning. Jet Demolition's Chairman Joe Brinkmann said it was a vast challenge to bring down the building due to its designed manner.

"It was a problematic experience to finally demolish this building, especially with other structures surrounding the building. If the building was sitting by itself it was going to be much easier to take it down, but we managed it accordingly," he said.

On explosives used to demolish the building and ensuring safety of the site, Safety Manager Marthinus Botha firmly said: "We used 894 kilograms of explosives to bring down the building, and this was the second largest building to be demolished, standing at 108 metres long, with the tallest building once demolished sitting at 114 metres."

The refurbishments of other 17 government buildings and the rebuilding of Bank of Lisbon will take place as part of the Kopanong GPG Precinct. Further plans will be announced in due course. 


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