Huge bill for pool neglect

2011-09-20 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality has to fork out almost R300 000 to revamp the historic Berg Street swimming pool after it failed to effect repairs of around R15 000 to rehabilitate the pool last year.

The pool was invaded by vagrants who slept there and stole whatever they could sell because the property was not protected by the private security company that has a R4 million contract with the municipality to guard its properties.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said, “In the first instance it was not just the filter that needed attention; there were other minor repairs to the ablutions and change rooms which amounted to R15 000 to undertake.

“As for security … it is not always possible to provide security for every municipal facility.

“Vandals took advantage of that situation while we were planning to do some repairs.”

He said that to allege that the municipality has allowed the pool to “go to rack and ruin” is mischievous.

“Security [by a private firm] has since been deployed at the pool. The process of a complete rehabilitation will commence as soon as the supply chain processes have been completed,” said Zuma.

He said electrical repairs, the ablution block, change rooms, fencing and the pool itself will receive attention at a cost of about R290 000.

A municipal insider asked, “Why did the municipality allow a valuable municipal asset, paid for by ratepayers, to go to rack and ruin?”

Anwar Rawat, a former lifeguard, said the pool has an important history because when it opened in 1965 it was only to be used by Indians, but they would sneak in Africans in the absence of the white officials so they could also enjoy a swim.

“Without this pool there are lots of schoolchildren who are being neglected by council because that pool caters for Berg Street Primary, Alston Primary and Islamia Muslim School,” Rawat added.

He said Berg Street and Alston primary schools have many pupils who are from poor communities and who learned to swim in the pool.

“For the past two seasons that pool has not been working.

“The council should not only look at generating revenue, but they must consider that having that pool in operation would also help to get children off the streets,” Rawat added.

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.

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