Vacant buildings referred to as ‘white elephants’ stand unused in Glenwood
Durban – GLENWOOD residents say the eThekwini Municipality has erected “white elephant” buildings in the area that have stood unused for years, instead of providing the community with much-needed resources, including recreational facilities.
Heather Roos, chairperson of the Umbilo executive Community Policing Forum (CPF) and the Bulwer Safety and Urban Regeneration Forum, said buildings – such as the award-winning ultra-modern Umkhumbane Heritage Centre. in Rick Turner (Francois) Road in Cato Manor, earmarked as a museum, and a restaurant building in Bulwer Park – had remained unused since they were built several years ago.
She said the new electricity sub-station on the corner of Bulwer Road and Clarke Road, completed about two years ago, had also not yet been activated.
When The Mercury visited the buildings this week, on-site security said the buildings were not open to the public.
“The CPF is trying to sort out getting a bigger police station because our community has grown so much over the years but the police station has stayed the same size. There is no parking and the building is falling apart, so it is not functioning for the community, yet they are building all these buildings that are standing vacant when we need a police station and a community hall,” she said.
Roos suggested a bigger police station could be built at the old Congella Sports Club grounds rather than low-cost housing, which would further bloat the population. She added the community desperately needed a clinic.
Durban resident and member of the Glenwood Community Group, Natalie van den Blink said she could not understand why the buildings were standing unused when there was so much poverty and a need for shelters for unwanted babies.
Ward councillor Mmabatho Tembe said she had repeatedly written to the municipality to ask why the buildings had not been used.
“When these buildings are kept standing, they are open to vandalism and the City is not raising any income from them,” she said.
EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the building in Bulwer park in Glenwood had originally been intended for use as a restaurant, with a sustainable fresh vegetable garden for the lessee to develop.
“The City is currently finalising some legal processes before this can go to tender. This would have been done sooner had it not been for the delays due to Covid-19 and the nationwide lockdown.
“Once the contract is finalised, the paperwork and tender will be put out, calling for expressions of interest to run the restaurant,” he said.
Mayisela declined to comment on the delays regarding the Umkhumbane Heritage Centre, as he said the matter was in court.