A youth centre, which has taken more than eight years to come to fruition, was finally opened in Port Elizabeth’s Walmer township yesterday.
The Walmer Youth Centre, situated along the newly upgraded Fountain Road, will be home to hundreds of Gqeberha youth who are interested in sports.
The youth centre was part of a R52-million upgrade in Fountain Road which began in 2010. Lengthy tender processes and work stoppages resulted in years of delays. Vandals also trashed the facility, which meant more money and time had to be spent on repairs.
The opening of the new centre was officiated by Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip.
There was, however, a poor youth turnout.
Simphiwe Dolwana, 27, of the Gqeberha Youth Empowerment Project, said he hoped the centre would bridge the gap between Walmer township and the affluent side of the suburb nearby.
“We have always wanted a centre that is specifically for the youth. This will bring opportunities for many young people who have ideas they want to bring to life,” he said.
Gqeberha Youth Empowerment Project chairman Siyanda Makwabe, 28, however, said he was concerned by the poor youth turnout at the opening event.
“Without the stakeholders [youth and community] being involved, I do not see this project being a success,” Makwabe said.
He said another concern was that residents would have to pay to use the centre.
The city’s economic development boss Anele Qaba confirmed that a minimum fee would be charged.
In an attempt to curb crime in the area, Trollip said he would offer incentives to young people who bring forward any information on criminals.
“I think it is an extraordinary tragedy that people of Gqeberha had to walk past this unfinished building for more than eight years,” Trollip said.
He said he would be in touch with youth organisations in the area to form a community watch system, and would offer rewards to young people every time the information they provided led to arrests.
“Crime is one of our biggest problems in this country,” Trollip said.
“Our young people spend too much time on the street and they know what is happening on the streets.”