Metro gives Scenery Park a facelift as tavern tragedy pushes township into the spotlight

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Roads leading into Scenery Park are being fixed.
Roads leading into Scenery Park are being fixed.
Malibongwe Dayimani
  • Days after tragedy struck Scenery Park township in East London, Buffalo City Metro has been pumping funds into the area to do much-needed repairs. 
  • Angry locals are now accusing the metro of trying to save face by fixing the area while it's in the spotlight. 
  • The metro said it's fixing roads and parks in anticipation of the influx of people expected to visit next week for the mass funeral. 

Scenery Park township in East London where 21 youngsters died at Enyobeni tavern last weekend is getting a facelift, angering residents and making them question Buffalo City Metro's sudden interest in fixing up the area.

Locals say the municipality has suddenly been hard at work tarring roads and fixing streetlights after the area was thrust into the global spotlight after the tragedy.

Motorists have been enduring traffic jams due to roadworks in the area leading to the tavern where 12 young girls and nine boys died. 

Scenary Park is getting a facelift.

The incident caught the attention of international news agencies around the globe, while local news crews have been camping out in Scenery Park following the youngsters' mysterious deaths.

READ 'Help, I am dying': Man who tried to save teens from Enyobeni tavern tragedy haunted by victims' screams

South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) regional treasurer Nomthunzi Mbiko said the sudden sprucing up of the township was a blatant insult to residents who've been living in the area.

Mbiko said:

All of a sudden they are tarring roads, fixing potholes and streetlights. What were they waiting for all this time? They want to deceive the world to think they are doing their work.

Mbiko said the youngsters' deaths inside the tavern could have been avoided had the metro invested in building recreational centres, parks and sport fields to keep youth out of taverns.

He said teenagers in the area had too much time on their hands and to pass time, they resorted to underage drinking at local taverns.

He added that even the grounds where they've been holding mass meetings at were fixed hours beforehand. "They cut the grass. We now host our late meetings outdoors on vacant fields because the community hall has no electricity".

"It was vandalised some time ago and the issue has not been addressed."

enyobeni tavern
Massive roadworks ahead of the mass funeral of the 21 victims of the Eyobeni Tavern tragedy.

ALSO READ Tavern tragedy: We 'jumped off the balcony' to escape after bouncer locked door - survivors

Mbiko called on the government to declare Scenery Park a disaster area so funds could be allocated to build sport fields and facilities needed for the youth. 

"I passed the municipal employees on another section of the road painting speed bumps, meaning there is no shortage of paint, it was there but they were not painting. The question is why? They see all these cameras, now suddenly they get excited."

News24 understands that Police Minister Bheki Cele had also told local councillors during his last visit on Sunday that he was not impressed with the state of the roads. 

ANC Youth League regional chair Ondela Sokomani said: "Remember Scenery Park is a post-apartheid township developed by the ANC government. It cannot be that we find poor infrastructure conditions in Scenery Park."

enyobeni tavern
Scenary Park has been turned into a construction site.

Sokomani called on the government to address challenges in the area.  

"As the youth league, we say some of these social ills we face and these incidents [the tavern tragedy] can be easily avoided if we are consistent in relation to transforming society and creating conducive conditions for a socio-economic participation of young people," he said. 

ALSO READ Enyobeni tavern was 'built illegally' - and had violated trading hours, municipality says

Approached for comment, the metro said the roads were being fixed as part of logistical preparations for the expected influx of people in the next few days as it prepares for the upcoming mass funeral.

"We are expecting a heavy flow of traffic as the funeral will be held at the sports ground in Scenery Park and from both a security and traffic flow point of view, it is important that we put plans in place to ensure a safe and incident-free event," said BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya. 

Ngwenya said reports that they were only active in the ward in the wake of the tragedy were far-fetched.

He said recently, the metro had handed over a R3.4 million shipping container mall to benefit 17 young local entrepreneurs to fight unemployment. 

"We also built a very good state-of-the-art community hall in this area for the people of Scenery Park.”

Ngwenya said the metro was also busy with other logistical work, including preparing the sports field, as there was no running water or electricity. 

"This includes cutting grass, paving and ground clearance," he said. 

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