Bathers steam as mechanical failures keep Alexandra pool closed

2014-09-15 00:00

AS temperartures soared over the weekend, Pietermaritzburg’s most popular public swimming pool — Alexandra Baths — remained closed.

Hordes of disappointed bathers were left hot under the collar after seeing the large notice posted on the entrance informing them of the closure.

This was not supposed to happen and they thought that the days of the city public pools not opening on time and shutting down during the summer swimming season were long over.

The local swimming fraternity had put pressure on the municipality over the years, to ensure that all repairs were conducted during the winter months, so that there would be an uninterupted summer swimming season.

By Tuesday there was already an alert that the Olympic pool in Newholmes was closed, but it re-opened before the weekend.

Late on Friday, the municipality said the Alexandra Baths had to be closed for repairs.

On the Olympic Pool, Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said plumbing staff had been sent on Monday to repair gate valves that could not close. “While digging a trench to expose the pipes the main water pipe was damaged.

“A private contractor was engaged to effect emergency repairs so that water could be restored to the toilets. The lifeguard was told to inform the bathers that there was no water in the ablution blocks. The repairs have been completed and the water restored,” she said.

The municipality issued a statement on Friday informing the public that the Alexandra pool had closed for repairs.

She said the water in the pool had to be drained to allow the contractor to remove two butterfly valves in order to ascertain the cause of the filtration tanks losing pressure. Mafumbatha said the problem started last week, when staff tried to vacuum and backwash and found out that the filtration tanks lacked sufficient pressure to suck water from the pool.

“An order was created to replace the valves and the contractor is currently in the process of remedying the situation. It is near impossible to predict mechanical failure to plant and equipment,” she said.

However, the local swimming fraternity are not convinced.

Jay Jugwanth said that there have long been issues with the Alexandra pool filtration system. Jugwanth said that it was a sophisticated system that DA councillor Rodger Ashe knew well as he previously managed all municipal swimming pools.

“We have long asked the municipality to set aside politics and call on Ashe’s expertise in this regard,” Jugwanth said.

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