Vandals target R28m facilities built in 2010 but still not open to community
Two unused “white elephant” buildings, collectively worth millions of rands, have been increasingly targeted by vandals, with Walmer township residents querying when they will be opened to the public. The facilities – a youth sports centre and an economic development advice centre – were constructed in 2010, part of a R52-million upgrade in Fountain Road in the area.
They have not yet been launched by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
In the meantime, the buildings have been vandalised, meaning the city has had to fork out more money for repairs over the years.
The projects were funded by the national Treasury through its Neighbourhood Development Partnership Grant.
They were identified by the municipality as part of its urban renewal programme.
They included the upgrading of the economic development advice centre, situated at the bottom of Fountain Road, and the construction of the new youth sports centre.
The advice centre cost about R12-million and the sports centre about R16-million.
The remaining R24-million was spent on other infrastructure upgrades in the area.
Residents told The Herald that instead of spending money fixing unused buildings damaged by vandals, the city should rather repair streetlights that were not working.
Mthuthuzeli Batayi, 47, said there was no community hall in Walmer township.
“This building [advice centre] used to be called Ekunyamezeleni resource centre before it was renovated,” Batayi said.
“There was also a community hall there which has since been closed and community members are now forced to hire the Walmer High School hall.”
“We see people working here but we don’t even know who are they because the community was never consulted.”
Vukile Velem, 46, said there had been no movement towards using either of the buildings for a long time.
“We don’t know when the municipality is planning on officially opening [them]. They get vandalised and then we see them being fixed. After that, it just goes quiet until they are vandalised again. “The money that has been used in these buildings could be used to fix the streetlights in Fountain Road. It is very dark here at night which puts lives in danger,” Velem said.
Asanda Yini, 20, said it would be great to have the sports centre opened.
“Most of the youth in Walmer are using drugs which results in criminal activities. The centre would keep them busy and away from the streets.”
Olona Mlambo, 35, said: “We asked to use the sports centre and were told to wait for it to be officially opened . . . but all we see is the building being vandalised and fixed.”
Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said the youth sports centre was completed and the community could use it.
“The councillor’s office will be converted into a caretaker’s cottage. The contractor will prepare the new offices for the councillor at the advice centre,”Mniki said.
“The hall at the advice centre will be renovated [for use by the community]. “The first aim was to secure the existing incomplete buildings . . . the fence was completed on June 30.”