ROUTE PRI­OR­ITY: Slice of bud­get for fix­ing pot­holes, cracks may now go to race route, write Ntombe­sizwe Botha and Sibulele Mboyi

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE -

KOHLER Road in Swartkops, Port El­iz­a­beth, is cracked and rid­dled with pot­holes. About R1.6-mil­lion was bud­geted by the Nel­son Man­dela Bay Mu­nic­i­pal­ity to fix it in the 2016/17 fi­nan­cial year.

But half of its bud­get will likely be di­verted to help fix roads ear­marked for the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship route which the city plans to host next year.

The 40km Iron­man route stretches from Marine Drive up to Sar­dinia Bay Road and then on to Seav­iew Road.

Kohler Road is one of at least 46 roads through­out the city ex­pected to for­feit a por­tion of their bud­get to col­lec­tively con­trib­ute R13-mil­lion to the R200-mil­lion needed to resur­face the Iron­man route.

The de­ci­sion to di­vert the money must still be ap­proved by coun­cil.

Week­end Post vis­ited half of the 46 roads from where bud­gets could be cut.

Many of the roads vis­ited are in a treach­er­ous state, with pits, cracks, bumps, lumps and pot­holes.

Kohler Road res­i­dent Onke Mju­leni, 25, said it made no sense to deduct the money that was al­ready ear­marked and ur­gently needed.

“I def­i­nitely do not see this as a fea­si­ble op­tion. In the long run, I am sure it’ll have con­se­quences of some sort.

“I have no doubt in my mind that this is an im­por­tant event as Port El­iz­a­beth needs a bit of recog­ni­tion, but to deduct it from places that also need the money?

“I don’t know, I’m not too sure I agree with that,” he said.

Some of the roads, like Baird Street in Uiten­hage, will for­feit as much as R1-mil­lion this fi­nan­cial year.

Baird Street is filled with pot­holes in the mid­dle of the road and some res­i­dents are not happy about the pro­posal to de­lay work on the road.

Baird Street res­i­dent Zizo Mbonyana, 28, said he did not un­der­stand why the money had to be taken for just one event.

“It is for one week­end. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity re­ally does not pri­ori­tise prop­erly. Hope­fully, this doesn’t come back to back­fire,” he said.

Other streets to suffer an im­pact should this be ap­proved will in­clude:

• Nge­dle Road, Mother­well, los­ing R100 000, with R1 131 875 re­main­ing;

• Gaza­nia Road, Sun­ridge Park, los­ing R75 000, with R154 500 re­main­ing;

• Pen­ford Av­enue, Uiten­hage, los­ing its en­tire R524 250 bud­get;

• Lock­heed Street, Walmer, los­ing its en­tire R198 000 bud­get; and

• Four sec­tions of Cram­mer Street, Mal­abar, los­ing R518 500 col­lec­tively, with R978 800 re­main­ing.

While some res­i­dents un­der­stood the po­ten­tial ben­e­fit of host­ing the event, they were un­happy about the pro­posal to redi­rect funds.

Cram­mer Street res­i­dent Phumelela Mbu­jana, 24, said: “They must ac­tu­ally put it to good use. I have lived in Mal­abar for four years now and in the time I have lived here I’ve never seen any se­ri­ous road­works be­ing done.”

Joshua McLenon, 30, of Gaza­nia Road, Sun­ridge Park, said it was a small price to pay to host the event.

“Iron­man is a world-class event and I think that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is do­ing the right thing. Iron­man is an event that brings in lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional par­tic­i­pants,” he said.

The Iron­man 70.3 World Champ- ion­ships – the first of its kind to be held in Africa – is ex­pected to draw 15 000 peo­ple, which is 5 000 more than the an­nual Iron­man African Cham­pi­onship.

Bud­get and trea­sury po­lit­i­cal head Retief Oden­daal said this was not a mat­ter of tak­ing money away from the wards but rather a reshuf­fling of the funds.

This money would be re­turned later in the 2018/19 bud­get, he said.

Oden­daal said if they could not find the funds re­quired for the road resur­fac­ing, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity would be ap­proach­ing dif­fer­ent cor­po­rate en­ti­ties for as­sis­tance.

“It is my un­der­stand­ing that the post­pone­ment of the resur­fac­ing and re­fur­bish­ing of the roads in cer­tain wards will be in ar­eas that are not in ur­gent need of this up­grade,” he said.

The metro’s po­lit­i­cal head of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, tourism and agri­cul­ture, An­drew Whit­field, said: “About 15 000 peo­ple are go­ing to be de­scend­ing on Nel­son Man­dela Bay for about 10 days.”

He said this meant that ev­ery sin­gle ho­tel would be filled.

“Iron­man is the an­chor event on our events calendar and helps boost the econ­omy. Ev­ery sin­gle com­mu­nity in Nel­son Man­dela Bay ben­e­fits di­rectly or in­di­rectly from the tourism in­dus­try.”

He said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was work­ing with Nel­son Man­dela Bay Tourism to pro­mote town­ship tours.

“This will ul­ti­mately pro­mote the in­for­mal trad­ing econ­omy by con­nect­ing tourists to the arts and craft traders who ex­ist all around the metro.

“We’re putting to­gether pack­ages for tourist to ex­plore each and ev­ery cor­ner of the metro, so that we’re able to en­sure that we in­te­grate the ben­e­fits that the Iron­man has into the com­mu­nity.”

Man­dela Bay De­vel­op­ment Agency spokesman Lu­vuyo Bangazi said re­al­lo­ca­tion of funds should not be seen as tak­ing money away but rather show­cas­ing Nel­son Man­dela Bay as a world-class city.

HON­OUR AT A PRICE: Fix­ing Port El­iz­a­beth’s Iron­man route might see some res­i­dents putting up with pot­holes in their streets a lit­tle longer

GAZA­NIA ROAD – SUN­RIDGE PARK Money de­ducted – R75 000 Bal­ance re­main­ing – R154 500 Con­di­tion of the road: This road is rough with more than one pot­hole

KOHLER ROAD – SWARTKOPS Money de­ducted – R812 500 Bal­ance re­main­ing – R800 000 Con­di­tion of the road: Big pot­holes with croc­o­dile cracks on the sides and cen­tre of the road. Un­even sur­face and no pave­ments

PEN­FORD AV­ENUE – UITEN­HAGE Money de­ducted – Ev­ery­thing (R524 250) Bal­ance re­main­ing – Noth­ing Con­di­tion of the road: Res­i­dents say mu­nic­i­pal­ity has to thor­oughly think through de­duct­ing money

CRAM­MER STREET – MAL­ABAR Money de­ducted in to­tal – R518 500 Bal­ance re­main­ing – R978 800 Con­di­tion of the road: There are cracks, pot­holes and bumps on the road and the sur­face is un­even

NGE­DLE ROAD – MOTHER­WELL Money de­ducted – R100 000 Bal­ance re­main­ing – R1 131 875 Con­di­tion of the road: Rid­dled with pot­holes and cracks

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