By Andrew Louw, MPL, DA Provincial Leader:
The Democratic Alliance welcomes the proposed Mandela Memorial Monument Project. We need to see this type of spatial development which brings services closer to the people. It would be a shame if this development is derailed by the poor planning, escalating costs and missed deadlines that we see with other big developments in the province.
Plans for the development extend beyond the original concept of erecting a statue. We are especially happy to note that the new concept includes an integrated youth centre, upgraded library and sport facilities.
The community as a whole and our vulnerable youth in particular can benefit from having such a safe, accessible place. We want to see that it becomes a real hub for sport, recreation, arts and culture. The Western Cape implements a structured development curriculum for learners at similar centres. This gives learners from disadvantaged communities the opportunity to develop their skills and interests after school hours. It also helps to keep learners safe from gangsterism and drug abuse.
The provision of student accommodation is also welcome, as we are suffering from a real shortage of space for students to stay. It is a bit worrying that the apartments are described as ‘walk-up’. A walk-up apartment usually has no elevator. Will this building be accessible for disabled students too?
Unfortunately, infrastructure projects in Kimberley have a reputation for costing more and taking longer than originally planned. Upgrades to the Northern Cape Theatre would have cost R5 million, but have now skyrocketed to R28 million. Difficulties with securing funding for the upgrades means that completing the upgrades have taken five years. The mental health hospital would have been finished in two years at a cost of R290 million. But we are now in the tenth year of construction and costs have escalated to R2 billion.
We also need to see a real commitment from the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality to maintain the facilities. The department of Sport, Arts and Culture have indicated that municipalities often don’t maintain facilities, either from a lack of funds or from a lack of interest.
We cannot let this development, with all its benefits, turn into another embarrassment for the province.