NEWS | EAST LONDON 

Municipality fails to fix public pool despite years of promises

It stands empty and overgrown in Mdantsane, a lost opportunity for the surrounding community

Photo of a empty swimming pool
The derelict Mdantsane swimming pool facility. Photo: Manqulo Nyakombi
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Despite years of promises by the municipality, a swimming facility in Mdantsane NU2 has still not been renovated.

The facility was built decades ago and has been closed since the 1980s. But in 2009, the municipality promised to renovate it and convert it into an Olympic-size pool with diving facilities and swimming courses. Local newspapers reported in 2010 that millions had been set aside through the Mdantsane Urban Renewal Programme.

Today it still waits, empty, overgrown with grass, and next to a dumping site. It is hard to even recognise it as a swimming facility and one can easily walk past it.

When GroundUp visited, a group of teenage boys were hiding behind the wall, smoking dagga. A young boy rushed up and said, “This place is not safe for a woman walking alone.”

A man in his mid-60s, who identified himself as Mr Gwele, said that when the facility was built, he was young. “This used to be our joy when we were young … It took us off the streets. We used to do swimming training here,” he fondly recalled.

Gwele thinks the facility closed some time in the 1980s. When he read in a local newspaper that the pool was to be renovated, he said, “I was happy for our children because nowadays they only focus on one sport, which is soccer.”

“But since the municipality promised to renovate the facility, it’s been empty promise after empty promise,” he said.

GroundUp spoke to over a dozen youngsters playing soccer on a sport field nearby. They said the place was now a base for criminals who rob people as they pass through the area to Highway Shopping Mall and the taxi rank.

Banele Mguqulwa, 16, said he would love to learn how to dive. He would also like to train as a lifeguard. He said the East London beaches were an opportunity for young people to work as lifeguards during the festive seasons.

“The municipality must fix this swimming pool,” he said.

Spokesperson for the municipality Bathandwa Diamond said the Metro still plans to upgrade the NU2 swimming pool. However, the project was delayed due to procurement issues.

She said a professional service provider is expected to be appointed by the end of July for the upgrade and redevelopment of the pool.

Resident Sindile Mbabanana said the swimming pool has been raised at a number of community meetings. “This swimming pool can change a life of a young person from Mdantsane,” he said. “Imagine seeing someone from our streets of Mdantsane at the Olympics. I think it is time the municipality starts to take us seriously and stops giving us empty promises.”

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