Car park dilapidated

Indoor pool leaseholder wants rates money ploughed back into maintenance

The leaseholder of the indoor pool centre said in the time he has been paying rates, Ndlambe Municipality has done no maintenance on the car park which is now in a dilapidated state.

The municipality owns the property for which Hennie Nel has a 99-year lease, valid from September 1 1997.

The rental payable to the municipality is only a nominal R1 a year. The benefit to the municipality in leases like this is that the property, with improvements, reverts to the municipality at the end of the lease. But 99-year leases are rare.

Four years ago, a Talk of the Town investigation revealed Nel had not been paying any rates and taxes on the property, despite this being a condition of the lease agreement.

At the time, Nel told TotT he was not required to pay rates and taxes because the property was recreational.

The clause in the lease appeared to be a surprise to the municipality, and they were unable to tell TotT if any rates were being levied.

It took a year for them to address the issue.

Two weeks ago, when TotT contacted Nel on an unrelated matter, he raised the issue of the indoor pool parking lot.

He said three years ago, the municipality had sent him a bill for rates arrears of R300,000 for the indoor pool property.

He said the bill came as a surprise, as he had been taking care of the parking lot at his own cost as per agreement with the municipality in the time of the erstwhile corporate services director, Angus Schlemmer.

Nevertheless, Nel said he paid the bill, and started paying about R5,000 a month in rates.

As he is paying rates, he expected the municipality to take over maintenance of the parking lot.

“I manage it, but it’s their parking,” Nel said.

He said he had repaved it in 2016 at his cost. But since then it has fallen into disrepair, and the municipality has not done any repairs.

“They haven’t done a thing to that parking,” he said.

Nel said he would like to see some of the rates money he pays ploughed back into fixing up the parking in the small boat harbour. He said he had raised the issue with the infrastructure directorate about a year ago, but nothing had happened.

“It’s the first place everyone goes to when they first come to Port Alfred,” he said.

In response to TotT’s query, municipal spokesperson Cecil Mbolekwa said: “Mr Nel recently contacted the municipality, specifically Mr [Sipho] Babama, acting director of infrastructure, and they agreed to meet in order to resolve the issue. Mr Nel will be contacted to set the date of the meeting.”

What is owed?