Council neglect sees pool vandalised

2011-01-28 00:00

THREE municipal swimming pools in former disadvantaged areas of the city remain closed and are being vandalised while council goes around in circles trying to find a way forward.

The Berg Street pool, Woodlands and Sobantu pools were not opened this summer. A Witness team was able to gain access to the Berg Street pool through an open gate. The pool is filled with dirty water, the grass is overgrown and the buildings have been trashed. Copper piping has been ripped off toilets and a geyser stolen.

The management of the pools first appeared on council agendas almost a year ago after consistent underfunding had left these recreation centres in dire need of maintenance. The executive committee (Exco) resolved that an exercise be carried out to test the market and see whether it is viable to outsource the maintenance and management of the swimming pools. However, at Wednesday’s full council meeting, the ANC proposed that Exco’s decision be sent back to the portfolio committee for review.

The Democratic Alliance vehemently objected, saying this was a waste of time and going around in circles while the swimming pools are deteriorating and would end up costing a lot more to fix

Councillor Rodger Ashe asked, “What more can we do? We’ve proved incapable of running the pools ourselves.” He said Exco is not calling for the outsourcing of swimming pools but rather for an exercise to test the market to see whether this is a viable option.

Concern has been expressed among poorer communities that if the municipal swimming pools are outsourced then they may become unaffordable.

Anwar Rawat who has regularly highlighted the sorry state of the swimming pools in the city, says a lot can be done by the municipality and those in charge of the swimming pools if they know what they are doing.

He said the Berg Street pool should never have been closed since it had a minor problem, a damaged water pump, which could have been fixed or replaced at no great cost. He believes the pool can still be opened in less than a week: all that needs to be done is to fix the pump, cut the grass and clean and refill the pool. Repairs on the building can be fixed while the pool is open. Local schools in the area, Berg Street Primary, Alston and Islamia, will be able to pick up on their development swimming programmes which had to be stopped.

Two years ago, in January 2009, The Witness carried a photograph of a pristine-looking Berg Street pool and told the story of how activist Hanef Bhamjee had fought for the pool to be built after three children drowned in a city river.

The Woodlands pool has a bigger problem as its filters collapsed and the pipes have filled up with stones. This requires extensive repairs and will be a lot more costly to fix.  The Witness was unable to establish what is wrong with the Sobantu pool.




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