Public Eye (South Africa)

No festive splash for city’s swimmers

- Chanel George Ntombizeth­u Ngcobo

Despite the Msunduzi municipali­ty promising that all the city's pools will be operationa­l ahead of the festive season, there are still public pools which remain closed due to maintenanc­e issues.

After opening for a short while in October, the Alexandra and Olympic pools will remain closed during the festive season.

According to the municipali­ty, this is because the pool's pumps are undergoing repairs.

On September 1, Public Eye reported that Msunduzi municipali­ty mayor, Mzimkhulu Thebolla, guaranteed that pools would be clean, safe and chemically balanced ahead of the summer season.

He visited the Buchanan Street, Berg Street and Woodlands swimming pools that opened on Spring Day to make progress inspection­s.

Willy Williams, who uses the Olympic swimming pool for private swimming lessons, has been dealing with municipal maintenanc­e issues since 2022 when the municipali­ty reported that there was a shortage of chemicals and could not open the pools.

He now has had to relocate to a nearby pool which he has to pay to maintain so that he can train his swimmers who also compete in swimming competitio­ns locally and internatio­nally.

"We will be using the pool at Arthur Blaxall School in Mountain Rise. The pool, however, is not long enough to train my squad as it is a 18m pool and we require a 25m pool or longer for competitio­n training,” said Williams.

He said that he also had to revamp and maintain the pool at his own cost.

Meanwhile, a resident of Eastwood, Lauren Myburgh, said the children of the community have nothing to do in the holidays and the pool in Eastwood is one of the places they can cool down during the hot days in December.

Dante Kemp, the Ward 27 councillor in whose ward the Alexandra Pool falls, said the temporary closure is unfortunat­e as we are now in the peak swimming season and the loss in revenue is concerning for all pools in Msunduzi.

“One would have hoped the recent oversight visits would have propelled the maintenanc­e and repairs of the pool considerin­g the amount of work and resources put into it to get it back on track.” said Kemp.

Garth Middleton, the Ward 32 councillor where the Woodlands pool is situated, said by now Msunduzi residents are aware that pools did not open on time for

Spring month in September. In fact, some are still not open three months later.

“The leadership must and should have a maintenanc­e plan which caters for these money generating assets (swimming pools) especially over the winter months,” said Middleton.

He said oversight visits done months ago revealed that the Alexandra pool was in a derelict state and employees who were absent from work were still clocking in and getting paid.

“At last week's community services portfolio meeting, a report was tabled that the Woodlands pool generated the most income and that some pools are still closed, including the Eastwood pool,” said Middleton.

“I want to take this opportunit­y to thank the then acting general manager, Wilson Mhlongo and his team who put in a massive effort to bring some pools back to their former glory.

“However, this should not excuse the city’s leadership of taking and shoulderin­g full responsibi­lity for neglecting the city’s assets all these

Myears,” he added.

Municipal spokespers­on Ntobeko Mkhize said that there are two swimming pools that are currently temporaril­y closed as a result of maintenanc­e and mechanical issues which are being attended to.

“We are speeding up the repairs to ensure that residents will be able to access these pools,” said Mkhize.

She said all swimming pools were open for use by October


“At the Olympic pool, the sunduzi Municipali­ty mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla has promised residents a better city in terms of service delivery next year.

Speaking to Public Eye, he emphasised their commitment to delivering quality services to the people of Msunduzi. He highlighte­d that their goal is to ensure that the community reaps the benefits of democracy.

“Our biggest challenge is that people don’t want to pay for services. We vow to address whatever challenges they have and also deal with them. There is no mercy for those tampering with the services. There will still be serious consequenc­es for those who are stealing services,” said Thebolla.

He added that at the moment things are going well in the municipali­ty.

“We closed this year in top gear and we will enter 2024 with it so that our people live a better life. One of our biggest highlights this year is the number of awards that we scooped.

These awards include most improved IDP in Kwazulu Natal, best water quality management and best communicat­ions. pumps are under repairs. We are accelerati­ng this process to ensure that the residents can have access,” said Mkhize.

She said at the Alexandra pool they are experienci­ng a mechanical challenge which they are also prioritisi­ng.

“The safety of the users is of utmost importance to the municipali­ty and we continue to monitor the pools and the water quality to ensure their safety. We will not hesitate to close the pools that may pose any risk to the residents.” said Mkhize.

“I am now known as the mayor of awards. This shows how well we are doing. This year we embarked on a programme done for the first time by government which is the one-on-one with the mayor.”

This one-on-one engagement with the mayor was initiated in April at the Pietermari­tzburg City Hall, where residents got the opportunit­y to talk to the mayor about service delivery issues affecting them.

In October, he moved his quarterly engagement with Pietermari­tzburg residents to Zone 2, at Caluza Hall. That is where the mayor spent a day joined by all Msunduzi department heads to address the grievances of Pietermari­tzburg’s citizens.

Thebolla also reflected on the city’s 185year celebratio­n this year.

“Most of the things that we wanted to achieve; we believe that they were a success.

“Of course, we know and acknowledg­e challenges that we faced.

“This was a very successful year in the history of our city. We want to continue doing that so that people get the service delivery they deserve,” he added.

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 ?? ?? The Olympic pool which received a deep clean by the municipali­ty ahead of the festive season is still closed.
The Olympic pool which received a deep clean by the municipali­ty ahead of the festive season is still closed.

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