Partial shutdown of Nelson Mandela Bay swimming pools stuns parents

Residents cool off at the Gelvandale Swimming Pool, something they won't be able to do for much of the summer holidays
Residents cool off at the Gelvandale Swimming Pool, something they won't be able to do for much of the summer holidays
Image: Werner Hills

A decision by the Nelson Mandela Bay metro to partially shut down municipal swimming pools in the city during the height of the summer holidays has stunned parents and ward councillors.

Pools affected by the closure — in force  from Monday to Thursday each week until the end of  December — include the Kings Beach middle pool and the Zwide, Motherwell, Wells Estate, Gelvandale, Varsvlei, Rosedale and KwaNobuhle municipal pools.

The decision was taken because of the ongoing drought, which has seen the city’s main supply dam levels  drop below a combined average of 35%, the municipality announced on Wednesday.

Municipal spokesperson Kupido Baron  said the affected facilities would only be open for business on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

Parents and ward councillors have objected to the announcement, saying it had been poorly communicated and would cause unhappiness, particularly among children from disadvantaged communities who mostly do not have access to pools at home and would now have little to do during the holidays despite the hot summer conditions.

Zimkhitha Dyani from Zwide, mother of a six-year-old boy, said: “It is sad because in the township we are not used to swimming pools and during the year our kids are at school, and it would have been nice for them to go  to the pool during the festive season.

“The pools are a place of entertainment for the kids and the temperatures are high.

“Because the pools are only going to be open on weekends, what if it rains on weekends and then becomes sunny on weekdays?

“It’s not fair.”

Dyani’s comments where echoed by Nolusindiso Njalo, of Motherwell, whose children are aged five and 16.

“It’s sad that now our kids have to stay indoors the whole week.

“It was nice when they went to the pool almost every day.

“Now it will give them ideas to go to St George’s beach, which is not too far from Motherwell and is very dangerous.”

Ward 10 councillor Andy Jordan, of Gelvandale, said though all councillors were on a WhatsApp communication group, he had not received any notice from the city about the partial closure.

“The swimming pool was filled up with borehole water two months ago — I can’t see why they cannot open it every day,” he said.

Ward 9 councillor Henrich Muller, of Sunridge Park, also expressed surprise at the announcement, saying  it would have a negative effect on the community.

“The temperatures are high.

“Yes, we do understand the crisis of water in our metro but this was poor planning by the municipality.

“Two weeks ago it was all systems go for the pools — now they come back and make the announcement without informing anyone of us,” he added.

Ward 49 councillor Franay van de Linde, of Rosedale in Uitenhage, also expressed surprise at the decision, saying she had been led to believe the municipality had put plans in place because of the drought.

“I remember very well I raised the concern of what’s going to happen when the water in the pools drop because the children would be playing and I was assured that they would fill up the water — now this is surprising.” 

Van de Linde said  the pools were the only source of entertainment for many children, especially because of the prevailing high temperatures.

“This would bring a lot of unhappiness for children and adults too.

“The pools were convenient and [few people] are able to go to the beach.”  

Wells Estate Ward 60 councillor Mvuzo Mbelekane  and Ward 26 (Zwide) councillor Patrick Vani also complained about the lack of communication.

“The residents usually go to the pool every day  when it’s open, especially children, but so far I have not yet received any complaint from the residents,” Mbelekane said.