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Durban’s Rachel Finlayson pool may not be ready for festive season

The Rachel Finlayson Swimming Pool has always been a tourist destinaion. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

The Rachel Finlayson Swimming Pool has always been a tourist destinaion. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Nov 27, 2020

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THULASIZWE NKOMO

Durban - Holidaymakers and opposition parties fear that the Durban beachfront’s Rachel Finlayson swimming pool will not be ready for the city’s influx of visitors ready to enjoy the city facilities during the festive season.

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This is despite the 2015 renovations that saw ratepayers forking out about R7 million as the city was preparing to bid for the aborted 2022 Commonwealth Games.

With the festive season approaching, many people are expected to visit Durban’s Golden Mile to enjoy the end-of-year holidays. However, the highlight of the beachfront is non-functional.

According to eThekwini DA caucus leader Nicole Graham, the issue has been ongoing for five to six years and no one has accounted for the mismanagement of the renovation project.

Graham said the non-functional pool would have a direct impact on tourism. “There is an insane amount of money that had been used on the pool, which includes unauthorised expenditures as the contractors who began the project failed and made significant mistakes.

“But they were reassigned again to fix their mistakes which shows improper management from the city.

“The same contractor that was given the task, again and again, had failed before in Shallcross,” said Graham, adding that all those who had been involved in the failed pool renovation project should be held accountable.

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“The contractor needs to be blacklisted and the municipal staff who were involved must be held accountable for improper oversight,” she said.

IFP caucus leader Mdu Nkosi said a lot of money has been lost already due to Covid-19 and the state of the economy was unstable from the lockdown and the closure of the pool would result in more financial constraints.

“Tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the KZN economy and when visitors and tourists think of their holiday destination they think of Durban because of the beaches, but when they are to find that the pools are not working, they would feel robbed and then consider other provinces and other countries instead,” said Nkosi.

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Nkosi said the money that had been spent overall on renovations should be considered as wasteful expenditure as the contractors failed to stick to the timeline.

“I will write a letter to the city manager and the head of parks department to inquire about the pool and if that does not help, we will write to the office of the Public Protector to investigate,” he added.

EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the city was in the process of complying with the Covid-19 regulations to ensure the safety of the public and employees.

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“The Aquatic Safety-Pools has since acquired the necessary Covid-19 PPE (personal protective equipment) for employees. However, to have such equipment in a pool facility and be able to use it, two lifesavers are required to be present per shift – currently we cannot comply – as legislated by the Disaster Management Act.

“We are in the process of engaging temporary staff to enable us to comply with legislation. Pools will reopen before the December school holiday begins,” said Mayisela.

He said the Rachel Finlayson pool was part of the 2010 upgrade where the filtration pipework was routed incorrectly and not tested and was therefore closed on the 25th of June 2015 for the repairs which were completed in December 2018.

“The pool was opened for the test run on 5th January 2019, it was noted that the pool was losing some water and required extended investigation and remedial measures and had latent defects.”

The Mercury

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