Tick of City Hall’s iconic clock stopped by a tangle of red tape

2018-10-15 15:50
The City Hall’s iconic clock has not been working for several months. It isn’t broken, but needs maintenance.

The City Hall’s iconic clock has not been working for several months. It isn’t broken, but needs maintenance. (Ian Carbutt - File)

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It's been months since residents have been able to check the time by the City Hall clock, and red tape seems to be jamming up the process of getting it ticking again.

Resident Linda Barron said she had noticed that the clock had stopped working earlier this month and was concerned that the city’s visitors would not be impressed when they see this “sad state of affairs”.

Mark Webber, a local horologist and curator of the tower clock, said the clock was not broken but needed to be cleaned, serviced and wound.

Webber said he was contacted by Msunduzi Municipality regarding the clock about three weeks ago.

“They issued us with a new contract, which I have handed back to the municipality. They said it needed to be signed by the City manager and then we need to wait for the order number to be issued before we can start working on it. I haven’t heard anything since I handed back the contract,” said Webber.

He said there was nothing wrong with the clock, it just needs to be serviced.

“We need to clean out the entire tower because there are a lot of nests there. We also need to service it before we get it running again. I haven’t been up that tower in four months so I’m not sure about the condition and how long it will take to complete the servicing job,” he said.

Ntobeko Ngcobo, spokesperson for Msunduzi Municipality, said the City’s previous contract with Webber had expired and they were in the process of entering into a new contract with him.

“The City Hall building has immense historic value. It is not true that the clock only works for one week then breaks again, the clock is not broken, it just needs maintenance.”

She said they expect the clock to start ticking again “very soon”.

According to the SA Venues website, the City Hall is a national monument, originally constructed in 1893. It was destroyed by a fire in 1895 and rebuilt a few years later.

The building is of immense historic value with struggle icons Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi both being accorded freedom of the city in April 1997. Mandela attended the event and accepted the award by Mayor Omar Latiff before himself conferring the same honour to Gandhi.

Webber, who studied at the British Horological Institute and has been a horologist for over 40 years, did the major restoration of that clock in 2002 and has been the City’s trusted horologist ever since.

“We spent four months up the tower completely restoring everything from scratch. So I know that clock inside out,” said Webber.

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg

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