Decision on new multipurpose centres needs a rethink

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has approved initial plans for two multipurpose centres that will be built in New Brighton and Bethelsdorp
BOOST FOR COMMUNITIES: The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has approved initial plans for two multipurpose centres that will be built in New Brighton and Bethelsdorp

News this week that the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality had approved the development of two multipurpose centre developments in the Bay as well as a digital library for Bethelsdorp has been received with scepticism and sarcasm. 

The metro’s standing committee for sport, recreation, arts and culture last week approved construction of the centres, at an estimated combined minimum cost of R130m when completed in New Brighton and Bethelsdorp.

Others have been earmarked for Kwazakhele, Motherwell and KwaNobuhle.

The centres are being implemented by the Mandela Bay Development Agency.

Upon completion, the centres will boast sports fields including cricket nets and tennis and netball courts.

And while such news would ordinarily be welcomed, residents say more should be done to ensure existing facilities operate efficiently before developing more.

Some suggest the approval of this new project is simply electioneering, with national elections just months away.

Commenting on HeraldLIVE’s social media platforms, several followers asked “what about” current libraries that are closed, existing sports facilities that are in dire need of attention and New Brighton's “white elephant”.

“AND what about the so called state-of-the-art library at RED LOCATION and that white elephant and costly MUSEUM. Come on now. The world is reusing and saving money, so should PE. Stop wanting to destroy or build. Use what you have efficiently,” one follower wrote.

A few also highlighted the closure of the Newton Park library last week due to a toilet paper shortage.

“They close Newton Park’s library because of a toilet paper shortage, but can open another one. Make it make sense please,” another follower wrote, while yet another encouraged others to “take a drive to KwaNobuhle and look what the multipurpose centre looks like”.

There are also concerns about the ongoing scourge of vandalism in the Bay: “Building a multipurpose centre to be carried away brick by brick?”

And every comment is spot on. 

The Bay is in desperate need of such centres.

Similar to libraries, multipurpose centres are safe gathering points for community members and serve as educational and recreational hubs.

They also provide spaces for cultural events, exhibitions, and performances, fostering an appreciation for the diversity of traditions, and are a potential breeding ground for the next Siya Kolisi or Ashwell Prince.

But of what use are they if, like existing facilities, they are not properly managed?

So while the prospect of new facilities might seem a good idea — and we would welcome them down the line — we urge officials to rethink the development of new facilities until they are able to maintain existing ones.



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