Preserving heritage in Nelson Mandela Bay

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pretoria - The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Heritage Task Team wants the municipality to renovate and preserve dilapidating historical buildings in Port Elizabeth.

The buildings include hotels, guest houses and a school built in the 1800's. Some of the buildings represent some of the best architectural works of their time such as the police station where Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko was detained and tortured.

The Heritage Task Team said the dilapidated buildings were serious cause for concern as they undermined the valuable heritage of the city and were reportedly becoming safe havens for criminals.

The task team had an inspection trip of the buildings on Friday.,Task team head and Deputy Executive Mayor, Cllr Nancy Sihlwayi, said a clear programme was urgently needed to ensure the buildings' safety and security as well as preservation and restoration.

"We cannot effectively deal with crime while we provide safe havens for criminals to conduct their business.

"Again, we cannot effectively promote Nelson Mandela Bay as a tourist destination when we neglect the very few tourist attractions in the city," she said.

The task team is to report to Executive Mayor, Zanoxolo Wayile next week to ensure that speedy action is taken.

Sihlwayi reiterated that the municipality was committed to ensuring speedy action on the matter.

She further said it was a complex process which needed broad consultation with affected owners, government departments and regulatory bodies.

All this, according to Sihlwayi, will ensure that the process is legally sound and draws from the collective competencies and inputs of the various stakeholders.