Is PMB ready for 2010 World Cup?

2009-06-29 00:00

NOT so long ago I was watching one of the well-known talk shows on television and they were discussing whether or not our country is ready for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. There were so many people who sent SMSs and called in say that we are ready, but I disagree.

Let’s take Pietermaritzburg. There are parts of this town that are beyond filthy. Like the Retief Street area right down to East Street. This is a part of town I would never be caught in. It is dirty and untidy, and a home for cellphone and bag snatchers. At night the place is said to be surrounded by night workers who sometimes don’t even bother to cover up. I am all for the beauty of a woman’s body but this kind of behaviour is just disgusting. I have nothing against prostitution, it’s a way of living for some and I respect their decisions, but surely there’s a more subtle way to find clients? How is our city going to be a good hospitality option for the tourists who will be here for the World Cup?

Then you come to Freedom Square. All those who use this area frequently know that it has just been cleared and cleaned out. It is supposed to look much better now. But does it? In one corner you find herbalists (or whatever they call themselves) showcasing their large reptiles and making promises to cure diseases and bring back lost lovers. They stand in the corner with a slimy looking snake tangled around them and they invite you to join the crowd. There is fascinating and then there is revolting, and this is definitely revolting.

Walk further up towards the CBD and I guarantee you there will be more than 10 people shoving pieces of paper in your face, practically forcing you to take a flyer that advertises a doctor with a weird name and how he can help you with your sexual problems. Or maybe you’ll be stopped by a group of women who think you should let them seat you by the side of the road and braid your hair. And they don’t just ask you; some try to grab you and force you to sit down, especially if your hair doesn’t look done. If you haven’t walked up Church Street in the last few weeks — keep away.

Of course, there is that one problem we have had for years now but no one seems to want to make it go away — those dreaded vagrants who roam the streets. Some of these people carry huge, heavy pieces of metal that they turn in their hands — it’s scary. There’s another guy who carries a brick with him and looks very dangerous. One of these tramps raped a woman last year in broad daylight. What else should happen before something is done about them wandering the streets? Same goes for the street children. There’s a whole crew of them who stay in a run-down house in the lane separating the Mini Market and the premier’s office. I dare not walk there, I would much rather go around via Jabu Ndlovu Street and be late than put my life in danger by walking there. Those youngsters are no longer children, they are capable of ­anything. Anything. There’s one mean-looking boy-turned-man who stands in the middle of Langalibalele Street at the Boshoff Street traffic lights. He touches women inappropriately and terrifies with the gruesome way he looks at you. Are these same people going to be occupying our streets come 2010?

While there has been some improvement in the Freedom Square area and some of the other parts of town, no one can control people. You find men leaning against trees peeing 100 metres from the taxi rank which has more than one public toilet. Is it me or are some of our brothers ignorant?

The state of our city is not entirely the government’s duty, we also need to contribute. Pietermaritzburg is our home and if we hope to offer tourists a better stay we need to help make this place more accommodating and more comfortable. If we don’t feel comfortable walking the streets, how do we expect others to do so? As the saying goes, charity begins at home. Let us assist the government in making a change.


• Lungi Dladla is a Pietermaritzburg-based freelance writer.

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