Historic bandstand still not fixed months after collapse

2009-10-06 00:00

WHAT has become of the old Alexandra Park bandstand? Is the Msunduzi Municipality delaying the project in the hope that city residents will forget?

They certainly haven’t.

“The bandstand is part of our heritage. Some people were married there, some have memories of it actually being used by bands at cricket games … I personally don’t have a memory of it, but I can appreciate it for its beauty, for what it adds to Pietermaritzburg.”

This is but one of the many nostalgic submissions The Witness received about the historic structure, which, according to city archives, is the only one of its kind in South Africa.

The 117-year-old bandstand was damaged during a freak storm in January this year when the branch of a tree fell on top of it, shattering its cast- iron components.

The debris from the collapse lay untouched for months and well-placed sources said scrap-metal thieves could have hit the jackpot if the architects had not salvaged the valuable pieces in February, before they were officially appointed.

The rest of the structure is with the insurance company, said sources.

When Parks and Recreation director Steven Naick was asked in March why nothing has been done to fix the structure, he said the municipality is waiting for permission from heritage organisation, Amafa.

However, Amafa responded at the time, saying the municipality does not need its permission for the restoration.

Sources said that after the architects were appointed in March, they were given the green light to clear the site. They received quotations from contractors in May and forwarded them to the insurers, said the sources, and they made the municipality aware of the claim.

Reliable sources told The Witness the file has been gathering dust in the office of chief financial officer Roy Bridgmohan.

When asked to comment, Bridgmohan said in statement: “The matter has now been checked and evaluated with our insurers and the report is being finalised and will be submitted to the relevant committee for approval.”

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