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Bayworld’s fate hangs in the balance
02 February 2012

Gareth Wilson [email protected]

THE fate of Port Elizabeth’s crumbling Bayworld hangs in the balance as the provincial government drags its feet on handing the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) the job of restoring what was once the city’s top tourist attraction.

This was revealed during a four-hour strategic planning session attended by concerned Bayworld staff and stakeholders yesterday – but which key government officials involved with the restoration process failed to attend.

To date, Bayworld staff remain uncertain of their future as the provincial Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture (DSRAC) has failed to inform them of the way forward.

The complex awaits the signing of an agreement between the DSRAC and the Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Department that will effectively see responsibility for the complex split in two. The DSRAC will continue to hold responsibility for the property while Economic Development will drive plans for the rest of the complex to once again become a major tourist attraction and economic growth contributor.

If given approval by the government, the MBDA will serve as the implementing agent for the redevelopment of Bayworld and will appoint an operator to run the facility and get the project off the ground.

MBDA chief executive Pierre Voges said extensive legal opinion regarding the revamping of Bayworld had been obtained and that any decision relating to the complex ultimately lay in the hands of the provincial legislature.

“No matter which way you look at it, the decision lies with the provincial government. They own the building and they are the only ones who can give the MBDA the mandate to make any changes,” he said.

“We have had meetings with the MEC and other provincial role-players to discuss this and everyone understands the rationale behind entering into a public-private partnership. The bottom line is we cannot move unless a political decision is made by provincial government. As it stands now, our hands are tied,” Voges said.

Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism chief executive Mandlakazi Skefile, who was at the meeting and is a member of the multiparty task team investigating Bayworld’s recovery, said she backed any plans to get Bayworld back on track and viewed it as a matter of urgency.

“We are competing with other South African cities and need Bayworld to be what it used to be – our top tourist attraction.

“At this stage we are waiting for the provincial department to mandate the MBDA to take over,” Skefile said.

Bayworld’s director, Fred Kigozi, said yesterday they were awaiting funding to roll out phase two of their “rescue plan”. However, it required a R13-million bailout from the government.

The department had said they would make R10-million available, but only in the next financial year.

Frustrated staff described Bayworld as a “bottomless pit” and “desperate” for funding.

Those attending confirmed they were waiting for action from Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture MEC Xoliswa Tom.

Attempts to contact Tom for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.

Last year, a Service Level Agreement was signed between the provincial government and the municipality to secure Bayworld’s  future.

At the time Tom said the agreement would regulate the roles and responsibilities of the DSRAC and the metro.

She also confirmed an investigation into a partnership to gather funds.

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Your Views

BrandGat 3 February 2012 5:08 am

These Tyrannical actions by this Government smack of Nazi Germany in the 1930`s,however they saw their a@se`s soon enough!…

dokhotelo 2 February 2012 1:18 pm

SECRETS OF STATE that need the common citizen ‘protected’ from its ugliness: Persistent destruction of the education system to a total chaos, Total destruction of Health system with revamping when Je…

dokhotelo 2 February 2012 1:04 pm

..PeStir: Over 50% of the money I generate goes in taxes, the same taxes supposed to keep children and adults with shoes and education and decent health, but end inside the pockets of ANC Mayors, ANC …

PStir 2 February 2012 10:42 am

How much of your salary do you donate? Or do you just comment about it?…

BrandGat 2 February 2012 3:47 am

This ‘secrecy bill’ is a slap in the face for democracy! The government seems to want “things’ swept under the carpet it has obviously much to hide. Time to get shot of them and start over again….

SharonT 31 January 2012 2:56 pm

how disappointing that this so-called journalist feels the need to include the trashy comments from a teenagers’ facebook page? the naked facts would have been enough to enlighten us to the teenagers…

dokhotelo 31 January 2012 11:35 am

…Do you know the meaning of political opportunism???? …….How about the “concerned mayor” and “concerned councillors” (if such a thing exists) donate part of their generous salaries (tax-payer p…

PStir 31 January 2012 7:55 am

So you don’t think it’s a worthy cause to get school uniforms for poor children? …

LAW 31 January 2012 7:34 am

Here we go again with the threats of load shedding. Eskom has had many years to come up and get the system running for a bigger population in SA, if its not an increase now its threats of load sheddin…

dokhotelo 30 January 2012 1:05 pm

…Ag, shame!….But with all the money he gets (“Councillors demand huge salary hikes” , “Mayors salaries to top R 1 million”), he can clown around…………