City to put on a smile for cyclists

2013-08-19 00:00

THERE are concerns over whether the Capital City has the fancy flounces and fripperies to “dress up” for one of its biggest international events this week.

The mountain biking world championships gets going on Wednesday and hordes of national and international cyclists and supporters will begin descending on the city.

For the team that has been slogging quietly in the background to organise this event, there are last-minute concerns that not enough has been done so far to make the city — which is receiving a facelift in certain parts — “beautiful” and impressive. The city centre has been dug up in preparation for a paving revamp — part of the Pietermaritzburg urban renewal programme. This poses the problem of a section of a main street — Chief Albert Luthuli Street — being closed.

The organisers are hoping that the residents of the city will make up for these shortcomings with their smiles and enthusiastic welcome of the visitors. They want the newly appointed traffic officers and wardens out in force to assist visitors. They are challenging all in the city including businesses to up their vibe and help inject a sense of excitement for this world event.

Event director Alec Lenferna said there have been various meetings with the provincial government and the municipality and plans were made to start dressing up the city at the weekend. The intention is to see the city festooned, as much as possible, in banners, bunting and welcome signs.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said they have assisted in different ways to support the huge event, which means much for the city.

“Our electricity, water and other departments have got involved.”

He reminded The Witness that the municipality had recently come out of administration, and there was not a big enough budget for adornments.

Zuma said the city may not have as decorative a dress as the organisers may be hoping for, but he was confident it would be “modestly but tastefully draped”.

He said it was not so much the adornments that count, but the special warmth of a Maritzburg welcome.

Residents are warned to be on their best behaviour, not to litter and to be kind to strangers.

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