No electricity ‘hurting’ stadium

2013-10-01 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG’S A.B. Jackson Greenfields Stadium, considered one of South Africa’s premier hockey venues, is still without electricity four months after a transformer blew up in Alexandra Park.

The patience of the president of the KZN Inland Hockey Association, Gary Carson, has finally worn out. Carson describes the situation as one of “gross inefficiency”. He has questioned the Msunduzi Municipality’s procurement process, which he was told was the reason for the delay in fixing the problem.

“We understand that in terms of the transformer, the insurance claim has been approved, but that the procurement department now has ‘in-fighting’, as to who will get the tender,” said Carson.

He added that the A.B. Jackson centre had lost a large amount of revenue as it was unable to hire out its astroturf fields to clubs for training in the evenings.

“This revenue is one of the association’s mainstays to staying functional and the non-supply of electricity is hurting the association badly,” Carson said. He added that the functioning of the association was being severely affected at all levels. They are struggling to complete league fixtures because matches cannot be played at night. According to Carson, a major revenue-earner, hockey’s annual business league, which takes place at this time of the year, cannot be organised without the electricity situation being resolved. “If ever, at this rate,” he added.

A.B. Jackson was one of the first hockey venues in the country to lay out an astroturf pitch. The result was that it became a sought-after venue for national and international hockey games. Similar to the Comrades and the recent international mountain biking event held in the city, hockey and the now “powerless,’ A.B. Jackson Stadium had also helped place Pietermaritzburg on the world sporting map.

However, the reputation of the city being a hockey capital could be undermined because the lack of electricity is affecting the maintenance of the astroturf.

Carson said the astroturf was a water-based design and had to be regularly watered. The association needed to have electricity to pump the water. Playing on it in a dry state results in over-wear of the surface, which in turn means that the lifespan of the carpet is shortened.

Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma said that procedures had to be followed in the procurement processes. “A service provider in the name of Duzi Electrical has been appointed to do the work, which we expect will be completed in four weeks’ time,” Zuma said. He added that the process had also been initially delayed because the municipality had put in an insurance claim for the blown-out transformer.

The transformer in the electricity sub-station alongside A.B. Jackson blew up on June 2 when the Comrades Marathon and Art in the Park took place.

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