Frus­tra­tion at 7-year de­lay

Post - - 1860: Celebrating Our Rich History - CHARLENE SOMDUTH

SEVEN years ago, the KZN Pre­mier’s Of­fice al­lo­cated R10 mil­lion to erect 1860 mon­u­ments and plaques in KwaZulu-Natal to com­mem­o­rate the ar­rival of In­dian in­den­tured labour­ers to South Africa and, to date, the project has barely got off the ground.

The only seem­ingly tan­gi­ble in­road was a sod-turn­ing cer­e­mony at South Beach, near uShaka Marine World, but that was a year ago.

The sub­mis­sions by se­lected artists, on what they en­vi­sioned for the R4.8 mil­lion mon­u­ment, were re­jected and, as a re­sult, it is lit­er­ally back to the draw­ing board.

But still there is no clar­ity on when the process will re­con­vene, as the buck is seem­ingly be­ing passed be­tween the pre­mier’s of­fice, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the 1860 Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee.

The com­mit­tee’s See­lan Achary, who worked with the eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity to get the project rolling, said fel­low com­mit­tee mem­bers were frus­trated.

“We are now seek­ing a di­rect meet­ing with Mayor Zandile Gumede for an­swers as to why the process is tak­ing so long,” he said.

“The com­mit­tee re­jected the de­signs of a group of artists last year be­cause they did not prop­erly re­flect the in­den­tured labourer.

“With our re­jec­tion, we pro­posed to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity that through the me­dia, they call for ideas or de­signs from the pub­lic. But the con­sul­tant from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity in charge of met­ing out this task did not do this.”

Busi­ness­man Ish­war Ram­lutch­man, who has pri­vately funded peace stat­ues around the prov­ince, said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity needed to be open with the com­mit­tee about the de­lays. Blame for the long wait, he said, lay squarely at the city’s feet.

Pre­mier Willies Mchunu’s spokesper­son, Nd­abez­inhle Sibiya, said they were await­ing feedback from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and com­mit­tee on the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the struc­ture, while the city at­trib­uted the de­lay to dis­agree­ments over the ini­tial de­signs.

“Some com­mu­nity mem­bers did not feel that they ac­cu­rately cap­tured the essence of the in­den­ture. As a re­sult of this, the project had to be handed back to the Bid Ad­ju­di­ca­tion Com­mit­tee (BAC) for au­thor­ity to change course,” said the head of the city’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions unit, Tozi Mthethwa.

She said they were await­ing the BAC’s au­thor­ity to ad­ver­tise to the wider pub­lic.

“The con­struc­tion of the mon­u­ment will be­gin once all pro­cesses have been com­pleted. In most cases a mon­u­ment of this na­ture takes three to four months to com­plete.”

Mthethwa con­firmed that about R4.8m was al­lo­cated for the con­struc­tion of the mon­u­ment.

“Part of this amount was used to pay the artists, who have sub­mit­ted their de­signs.

“The other costs re­lated to the ar­chi­tects and be­ing cap­tured.”

How­ever, over the years, plaques and mon­u­ments |have been placed in New­cas­tle, Lady­smith, Dundee, Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, Port Shep­stone and Richards Bay.

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