Much-needed development, or grandiose dreams?

Nelson Mandela Bay
Nelson Mandela Bay
Image: Supplied

If there is one thing that gets residents of Nelson Mandela Bay hot under the collar, it is government spending on anything perceived to be a waste of money.

In the last two editions of our sister publication Weekend Post, we reported on some of the city’s plans for major development projects.

These include proposals to develop a R2bn Tower of Light precinct to honour former president Nelson Mandela at St George’s Park; a new council chamber for our city’s lawmakers which could cost up to R45m for the chamber and parking; and new surveillance equipment with facial recognition and body language software to replace the ageing CCTV camera network at a yet-to-be-determined cost to ratepayers.

These three projects — should they materialise — could be real game-changers for the city.

Much-needed jobs would be created and a new security system would show investors the city is serious about clamping down on crime.

But history has taught us that the municipality often has grand plans which rarely come to fruition — be it due to budgetary constraints, a lack of political will or mere administrative ineptitude.

Judging from the hundreds of comments from our readers on our Facebook page about the proposed developments, people would much rather have the municipality focus on core service delivery.

Fix the water leaks and potholes and devise a realistic drought-mitigation plan that will ensure we never get to Day Zero, readers said.

One reader commented: “I stand to call to all the people of Nelson Mandela Bay. Today we have R18m that we need to use and fix our beloved Nelson Mandela Bay, not building chambers.

“We have roads, water, sewage to be fixed and houses for the people to be built  ...  We cannot keep quiet and leave corruption destroying our Bay. #IRefuse”.

What this tells us is that the citizens are fed up with a municipality that appears to be focused on grandiose plans rather than on getting the basics right.

The municipality must balance much-needed development for our city with pressing matters of service delivery, or it runs the risk of being completely out of touch with the mood of its citizens.