Dismal performance at arts centre

Hardly a work of art, the uThungulu Arts Centre has already cost the taxpayer millions… and the show is still far from over

THE uThungulu Arts Centre was meant to showcase the undoubted artistic talents of our people.

Instead, it has become an object of ridicule by the ‘audience’ that has over the past three years driven past the Veldenvlei structure opposite the regional sports complex.

Eagerly awaiting the official opening, the date of which has been announced and withdrawn on a couple of occasions, the main show has been the repeated repainting of the edifice.

The spectators have also witnessed walls coming down, fences going missing and literal ‘painting over the cracks’.

Built by the Department of Arts & Culture on land worth around R7-million, donated by the City of uMhlathuze five years ago, the project has been a disaster from start to ‘unfinish’.

Despite the fact the ground borders a known wetland system, where a literal dam filled after each bout of rainfall, the centre and other adjacent buildings appear to not have been constructed with this in consideration.

A consultant for the Department of Arts & Culture admitted on Friday there were ‘drainage and stability issues’.

‘When there were heavy rains last year we experienced problems with the ground conditions,’ said consultant Samuel Asem.

‘The original geotechnical report was inadequate and we have been forced to change the design criteria.’

This has obviously escalated the cost and extended the time frame for the project’s completion.

Asem said the premises had also been subject to large scale vandalism and theft, despite the security on site.

‘Among others, the electricity kiosk was stripped of its cables and copper.

‘The contractors’ site office was also cleaned out, including desks and office equipment.’

Asem said the project was ‘back on track’ and would be completed by the end of 2016.

Dave Savides

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