Ironman race in jeopardy after another budget delay
A DECISION that could make or break Nelson Mandela Bay’s status as the 2018 host city for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship was postponed again yesterday by the city’s budget and treasury committee.
The Herald had previously reported the city was at risk of losing the event if they could not secure R200-million in funding for the resurfacing of roads.
A proposal was made in council previously to use R13-million that was set aside for road resurfacing in several wards towards upgrades for the Ironman route.
However, this was deferred for further discussion in the committee as councillors were adamant that the budget for tarring township roads should not be slashed for the event.
It is not yet clear where the balance of the required R200-million will come from, but budget and treasury head Retief Odendaal assured the committee that mayor Athol Trollip was hard at work on this issue.
Odendaal also assured councillors that the R13-million would be reinstated to the wards in the adjustments budget, but to no avail.
Councillors questioned whether the event, which is expected to draw about 16 000 visitors, would bring in enough economic benefits to warrant such expenditure.
“We plainly can’t spend R200-million on one sporting event,” ANC councillor Rory Riordan said. “We need answers about the possible income from the event.”
United Front councillor Mkhuseli Mtsila said the proposed spending did not appeal to the party.
“The resurfacing will be done in well-developed areas. I don’t see the poor communities benefiting.”
Odendaal said an estimated investment of R500-million would be brought to the city through the event, while ANC councillor Bicks Ndoni questioned whether there were ways to mitigate the huge spending and find more cost-effective alternatives.
The committee would meet again before the next council meeting to further discuss the issue, Odendaal said.