Suncoast Casino. 
File picture
Suncoast Casino. File picture
A R1.8 billion construction work to improve Suncoast Casino has come to a halt. Picture: Supplied
A R1.8 billion construction work to improve Suncoast Casino has come to a halt. Picture: Supplied
DURBAN - The delay in resuming the construction of the upgrade to Durban’s Suncoast Casino had nothing to do with the arrival at the site of the controversial Delangokubona Business Forum.

This is according to Marel von Aulock, the chief executive of Tsogo Sun, speaking at the Indaba tourism showcase on Thursday.

A group of men from the forum, along with other members of the Federation of KZN Business Forum, had turned up at the site, saying they wanted a stake in the construction.

Although a federation member later denied they had forced their way on to the site, construction ground to a halt.

A wing of the casino and part of the parking area had already been demolished, and the area has been screened off since, to the annoyance of some patrons who are unable to find parking on busy days.

But Von Aulock said the delay in resuming work on the construction site had nothing to do with the arrival of forum members.

“Why it has taken so long for us to get back on the site is because I was not happy with the design of the upgrade,” he said after taking part in a live panel discussion on CNBC TV, about the tourism industry.

A new plan had to be drawn up, which took time, and had to be submitted to the city for approval.

The original plan to enlarge the complex had involved several shops, and 20000m2 that had been allocated for shops had been taken out of the design.

The new plan had dramatically increased the number of restaurants at Suncoast, while the underground parking and the high-end Prive Salon had been re-designed.

“We’ve taken R500 million out,” he said, adding that the cost of the upgrade would be R1.6 billion.

Referring to having changed the plan, he said: “I am not covering myself in glory, but it is better to fix it now.”

Construction would resume next month.

Asked if he was concerned about the forum members turning up and halting work again, he said they were a risk.

“They will probably have another go at us.

“But I hope they don’t give us too much grief.”

Daily News