City’s 2010 stadium debacle

2008-03-11 00:00

Struggling uMgungundlovu Municipality has found itself in trouble over the delay in the refurbishment of Pietermaritzburg’s Harry Gwala Stadium for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

MEC for local government and traditional affairs, Mike Mabuyakhulu, announced yesterday that the provincial government has taken the function of upgrading the stadium away from the district municipality.

The stadium is one of the stadiums in KwaZulu-Natal that has been earmarked for use as a training venue during the World Cup tournament.

The uMgungundlovu district municipality was given a mandate to carry out the refurbishment of the stadium so that it meets the requirements laid down by world football’s governing body, Fifa.

However, work on the stadium has been delayed, forcing the provincial government to take over the function. It has become clear that the municipality would never have been able to meet the 2009 deadline for the completion of the refurbishments.

Last month, The Witness reported on allegations that about R10 million earmarked for the project “had been siphoned to fund some of the municipality’s operational expenses, including staff salaries”.

By June last year, the municipality had not even submitted a business plan for the upgrading of the stadium to the province.

“As the provincial 2010 committee, led by MEC Zweli Mkhize, we were not satisfied with the speed at which uMgungundlovu has been moving on the project.

“This is why we have decided to take over as local government, after all, this is a provincial project,” Mabuyakhulu said yesterday.

Only one half of the ground has been upgraded, while many facilities remain in a state of disrepair, The Witness learnt yesterday.

Sources complained of dripping water pipes, broken windows and doors in the change rooms and an “unbearable” stench of urine.

However, Mabuyakhulu said all is not lost, as the district municipality can still be roped in at a later stage.

Mabuyakhulu said he was still confident that the project could be completed on time with the intervention of the provincial government.

He also indicated that his department will consider taking over from Amajuba district municipality, which had also been given the function to build another 2010 stadium in Newcastle. There have also been delays in this project.

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