Editorial | Keep facilities in good condition

Zwide Stadium
Zwide Stadium
Image: Brian Witbooi

The neglected state of dozens of sporting facilities in Nelson Mandela Bay may mean the metro is sitting with a ticking time bomb.

According to a municipal presentation, several building in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage are in such disrepair with cracks in stands, missing roof sheets and other structural problems that they are potential death traps.

Sports, recreation, arts and culture executive director Noxolo Nqwazi has said several facilities will almost certainly be closed.

Highlighting this shocking state of affairs is one thing, the municipality must now take action to rectify the dire situation.

It is eight years since 10-year-old Bevan Joseph died when stampeding spectators pushed over a wall at the Uitenhage Central sports field pavilion.

Sports matches do often lead to heated altercations, both on and off the field, and it is an unfortunate fact of life that hooligan spectators may well get out of hand again.

However, walls should not be so dilapidated that they are easily pushed over and this is where maintenance is so important.
Today’s report notes that if certain facilities were filled to capacity, they would collapse.

We all would prefer the youth of this city to take part in sports instead of turning to crime and the city fathers, therefore, must take steps to ensure there are safe facilities.

There also does not seem to be sufficient attention given to venue security, with fencing and caretakers often glaringly absent.

Many centres are blighted by vandalism and the community also needs to take ownership of amenities in its immediate vicinity.

Budget constraints and staff shortages have certainly hampered the work of officials, but we must ask: where are its financial priorities?

There is no point in launching an impressive sporting facility with fanfare, with little thought to longer-term viability.

The authorities’ obligations must go further than providing services such as electricity and water.

Budgeting for security and maintenance is an essential part of providing such facilities.