Coast KZN

10 Jul 2018

Durban beachfront pool revamp cost increases

Chris Ndaliso (Daily News) Picture: More money is needed for work on the Rachel Finlayson pool. (Picture: Leon Lestrade, African News Agency/ANA)

Ethekwini Municipality allegedly lacks funding to complete renovations at the Rachel Finlayson pool on the beachfront, a source close to the matter told the Daily News, however, the City denied this, saying that while there were unforeseen problems, the pool would be completed in two to three months.

The initial contract for the work in 2015 was listed as being R4.2 million, with the work awarded to Zalom Builders and this was due for completion in February 2016.

“The contractor is still committed to the work, but … there were problems with the project from the word go,” said a well-placed source who did not want to be named.

“Firstly, that pool was 100 metres and it was initially built many years ago. Later, it was divided and that’s when the problem started because landscaping, among other things, was not taken into consideration. When the contract was given to the existing contractor to refurbish the facility, issues including pipes and water had to be taken care of. It would seem the municipality cannot afford, or did not have budget for the refurbishment.”

DA eThekwini caucus leader Nicole Graham alleged the initial amount for the project had escalated to about R7 million over the past three years and called for an urgent investigation into the matter.

“The initial contract was after the pool had been tiled with dark tiles and a loss of life through drowning was reported. The work was then awarded to another company and was due to be completed in February 2016. We have since discovered that the contract value had been extended by R2.5 million, to amend the pool to international competition specifications in line with the 2022 Commonwealth Games Bid,” she said, adding that it was questionable why this had not been planned for initially.

“The work resumed in 2017 and it was noted that the structural work was almost done. In early 2018, the contractors again left the site. By the end of March, they were back on site and June was the scheduled date for when the pool would be opened again,” Graham said.

A director at Zalom Builders, who did not want to be named, said they were available to finalise the project. He confirmed that the company was still on site, and that financial constraints caused the delays.

“We have just brought in the piping system and, before we can pull the water from the ocean, we need to ensure that the pool is sealed. The structural set-up was not considered when the initial contractor worked on refurbishing this pool … lifting the stairs without considering the height and … the tiling will be affected on the surface. If we get the money to get everything, we should be done in a few months’ time.”

Municipality spokesperson Mandla Nsele said the refurbishment of the pool had numerous unforeseen challenges, given that no information existed for the facility. He added that the rehabilitation started on August 7, 2015, prior to the time of the Commonwealth Games bid considerations, at a cost of R3.73 million, and included structural rehabilitation, re-tiling and replacement of circulation pipework.

“The first challenge was that the re-mediation (that had been) contemplated and measured fell short of the identified requirements, established upon the dire condition of the main structure. Another challenge related to an urgent reconfiguration of material aspects of the pool structure and scoped works to respond to Fédération Internationale De Natation (Fina) standards and regulations for potential use … for international games,” he added.

Nsele said the extra work needed a further “finishing contract”, at a cost of R3.08 million.

“The increased finish height of the revised rim flow design of the pool resulted in a poor tie-in to existing paving levels, and suitable re-mediation now requires additional funding application. Some technical circulation oversights also now contribute to the requirement for additional funding application to address late additional works. The sum of all additional funding required … will be within 20 percent of the current contract value,” he said.

The work is expected to be completed in two to three months.