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The Louis Trichardt municipal swimming pool is in a state of total dilapidation. In 2014, a tender was awarded to repair the swimming pool for R500,000. This amount escalated to R700,000, and although the contractor was paid, the swimming pool never reopened because of shoddy workmanship. Now, the Makhado Municipality wants to invest another R2-million in the project. Photos supplied.

Another R2 million pumped into broken pool

Date: 12 April 2024 By: Andries van Zyl

The Makhado Municipality has approved its draft integrated development plan (IDP) for the 2024/25 to 2026/27 financial years. This essentially serves as a “wishlist” of the municipality and provide a glimpse of where the taxpayers' money will be spent the next few years.

Although most of the proposed projects are likely to receive residents' approval, some raise eyebrows. One such IDP entry is the proposed R2-million earmarked for Louis Trichardt’s municipal swimming pool.

More money for the swimming pool?

The issue of the municipal swimming pool is a contentious one. A tender for the repair of the pool was awarded to Harold Muswobi Construction in 2014. The tender value was R500,000, but reports later indicated it had escalated to nearly R700,000. The project turned into a fiasco and an embarrassment for the municipality, with allegations of shoddy workmanship and delays. The refurbished pool was supposed to open by 30 June 2014, but this was delayed because of the problems encountered. After the Zoutpansberger reported on the problems, a statement was made that the pool would definitely reopen in September 2015.

The dilapidated state of the Louis Trichardt municipal swimming pool. Photos supplied.

The project was criticised in a 2017 report by the municipal oversight committee, which discussed the auditor-general’s report. The swimming pool project was highlighted as an example of wasteful expenditure of taxpayer money. The council’s acting municipal manager at the time, Johannes Kanwendo, assured the committee that the contractor would be called back to repair the leaking pool at no extra cost. This apparently never happened, and the swimming pool has remained closed. Taxpayers are rightfully questioning whether investing another R2-million in the swimming pool will result in further wasteful expenditure, benefitting only the next contractor awarded the tender.

R5 million for refurbishment of caravan park

Another interesting project in the draft IDP is the refurbishment of the Louis Trichardt municipal caravan park. Older readers and residents may recall that Louis Trichardt’s caravan park was once a popular stopover for tourists travelling north and south, even winning awards as one of the best caravan parks in the country. Sadly, this asset has deteriorated into disrepair and is no longer considered a safe option for overnight stays by weary travellers. The extent of the disrepair is difficult to assess as the newspaper was denied entry to take pictures last year.

According to the IDP, the Makhado Municipality now plans to invest R5-million in the refurbishment of the caravan park, in two tranches of R2.5-million each for the 2024/25 and 2026/27 financial years. The projects are to be carried out in phases. While most residents would welcome the return of this community asset to its former glory, its actual restoration remains to be seen. The refurbishment is also part of the municipality's planned N1 recreational park at the current tourism information centre at the N1/Songozwi Street intersection.

N1 recreational park

In May 2021, the park adjacent to the N1 and the information centre in Louis Trichardt was reported to receive a R3.5-million facelift. The upgrade includes a new fence (completed), an outdoor gym, swimming pools, a running track, and even a skating area. The proposal to develop this popular picnic spot into a state-of-the-art recreational facility has been in the pipeline for many years, featuring additional amenities such as braai points, ablution facilities, swimming pools, a mini stage for small concerts, and an open chessboard. Adventure activities such as paintball, wall climbing, and kayaking were also considered.

Though no specific amounts are mentioned in the draft IDP, the project appears fourth on the municipality’s local-economic-development list, behind the maintenance of the Dzata Museum, the Tshivhangani poultry farming project, and the upgrading of the Elim Market.

Millions for better electricity supply

The draft IDP allocates significant funds for infrastructure, most notably for the town’s electrical network and roads.

Several substations are to be upgraded over the next three years, including the Emmarentia (R10-million), Boompark (R10-million), cricket field (R4-million), Eltivillas East (R5-million), Roodewal (R8-million), Makhado Park (R4-million), south of Pretorius Street (R2-million), and Levubu/Beaufort (R4.2-million) substations. R15-million is earmarked for the construction of a new substation east of Bergview. Another significant expense will be the replacement of wooden electrical poles with concrete or steel ones, with R4-million, R20-million, and R12-million allocated over the next three years, respectively. The street lights in the municipal area are also set to be refurbished again, costing R20.2-million over the next three years.

The Makhado Municipality also plans to spend millions on high-mast lights within its jurisdiction. Currently, 34 high masts can be found across various wards, but the municipality states that an additional 2,629 are required. For this purpose, they propose to spend R16-million, R15-million, and another R15-million over the next three years, a prospect that likely has several contractors chomping at the bit to cash in on the deal. Meanwhile, environmentalists are raising questions about the impact of these lights on light pollution and the environment.

Several streets to (finally) receive attention

Driving in and around Louis Trichardt has become a nightmare, and while the municipality has made some progress in addressing the road/street rehabilitation backlog, much work remains. For this reason, millions of rands have again been "budgeted" over the next three years for the rehabilitation of, among others, Kort/Krogh Street (R6-million), Protea Street (R4-million), Second Street (R4.5-million), Bauhinia Street (R4.5-million), Louis Botha Street (R6-million), Buffel Street (R6-million), Third Street (R6-million), Douthwait Street (R5-million), and Jasmyn Street (R3-million). R6-million has been allocated for the rehabilitation of streets in Tshikota, while R500,000, R5-million, and another R5-million respectively are allocated for rehabilitating and resurfacing the landing strip and roads at the municipal airfield.

More than 900 new stands

Arguably the largest single expenditure outlined in the draft IDP relates to township development. Here, R55-million has been earmarked for the development of roads and stormwater drainage in Tshikota for 164 new stands. This is overshadowed by the R100-million set aside for the development of roads and stormwater drainage systems for 700 new stands in the area south of Pretorius Street. This raises questions about whether both Makhado and the Vhembe District Municipality will be able to service these new stands, as they are already struggling with the existing number of stands in town. The draft IDP also lists R35.6-million for the construction of a “State of the Arts” Hall, although it remains to be seen if this ambition will materialise.

Some money for sports

Only two entries related to sports, arts, and culture projects made it into the IDP. R100,000 is earmarked for planting Kikuyu grass at the municipal show grounds as the existing grass has died. Additionally, R1-million each for the next two years has been set aside for the installation of a boxing ring and volleyball, netball, and gymnastics equipment at the Soutpansberg Squash Club Hall.

 

 
 
 

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Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.

 
 

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