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Concern over ability to host events

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Businesses previously also expressed concern regarding the Big Hole Caravan Park, accusing the municipality of allowing it to become neglected and exposing it to vandalism

CONCERN: The tram has been parked at the Big Hole for the past three weeks. Picture: Soraya Crowie

LOCAL businesses have raised concerns around the preparedness of Kimberley in hosting international guests over the next three months following failure to maintain the tram, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Diamond City.

The tram, which is believed to be faulty, has been parked at the Big Hole for the past three weeks and remains unattended.

The city will be a hive of activity this weekend with the Kimberley Diamond Cup (KDC), which is expected to feature high-ranking skaters from across the world.

The extravaganza was lauded by MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Maruping Lekwene, as placing Kimberley on the map as a skating destination.

Businesses previously also expressed concern regarding the Big Hole Caravan Park, accusing the municipality of allowing it to become neglected and exposing it to vandalism.

The park, at one stage, had become a crime hotspot due to a lack of security.

According to the Sol Plaatje Municipality, the revamped caravan park has been operational since April.

Sol Plaatje municipal spokesperson, Thoko Nkosi, said yesterday that the facility was ready to host guests for the KDC extravaganza.

“The caravan park has been cleaned up and is ready to host the estimated 20 skaters camping there.”

Situated next to the Skatepark Plaza, Nkosi said the park has the capacity to accommodate at about a thousand people.

According to Nkosi all renovations have been completed, except for the installation of the baths.

“But other than that it is ready to host guests.

“The facility has several braai areas for those who just want to spend the day relaxing with family and friends,” added Nkosi.

She said that municipal staff would be working at the caravan park on a permanent basis to prevent vandalism.

However, no progress has been made to get the tram ready to run over the weekend.

It has been alleged that the drivers were being paid to stay at home for most of the time while the tram remains unoperational.

Nkosi said the tram was stopped due to the expired permits of the two designated drivers.

According to Nkosi, the drivers will be renewing their permits after undergoing training from Wednesday to Friday next week.

“They will ask for temporary permits so that the tram can start operating as visitors from other cities are looking forward to getting on the famous tram,” she elaborated.

Nkosi apologised to residents for missing out on the opportunity of riding on the tram over the past few weeks.

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience, but we can assure residents and visitors that the tram will be operational during the festive season,” Nkosi added.

CEO for the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce (NOCCI), Sharon Steyn, expressed her disgust in the municipality for failing to maintain the tram.

“That is the main tourist attraction for the city and it has the potential of providing an economic boost,” said Steyn.

She added that much more needs to be done in terms of cleaning the city to host events of international status.

“We are hosting events of high standards like the KDC, followed by the ANC birthday celebrations and a cricket tournament, both in January, but we are still not taking pride in our city.

“How do we even bring international guests to our city when we cannot even keep out train station neat and tidy?”

She accused the Sol Plaatje Municipality of poor planning, lack of communication and lack of consistency in working with local businesses.

“They need to wake up and have a vision to work with local businesses in taking Kimberley forward.”

Steyn also pointed out the lack of transparency by the municipality in revealing statistics on events in order for businesses to prepare themselves.

“We do not want to embarrass our city by running out of stock in terms of food and accomodation during big events.

“They need to improve planning and communication.”