Metro outlines future plans for newly acquired Bayworld

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 2, 2016

Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Danny Jordaan has assured residents that the municipality would do everything in its power to bring the iconic Bayworld Oceanarium and Museum on the Port Elizabeth beachfront back to its former glory.

Delivering the keynote address on Friday during a handing over signing in which the Metro takes control of the facility from Provincial Government, Jordaan said strategies to rejuvenate the troubled attraction would start in earnest as its long-awaited acquisition, which coincides with the so-called Five Years Golden Year 2016-2022 plan, has the potential to grow the local economy and create jobs.

“The memorandum of understanding signed here today will provide us with a committed approach to working more closely together with the Department in our pursuit to create jobs,” Jordaan said.

“The key driver of the Five Golden Years is job creation and the socio-economic transformation of our metro. With the handover of Bayworld we have our work cut out, the task that lies ahead is to exploit the potential sustainability in order to offer attractive jobs to our people”.

Jordaan said achievements in the Metro over the past year “proves the municipality can be trusted with the task of delivering jobs, growing our investment portfolio and accelerating service delivery,” and that Bayworld presents another opportunity to boost Nelson Mandela Bay as a tourism hotspot.

He stated that the municipality, in cooperation with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), would also focus in turning Bayworld into research hub with regards to the ocean economy, and to provide a better understanding of marine life in general.

“We have two ports, more than 124 km of coastline yet we are trying to generate jobs from land. As residents of the Metro, we must look to the ocean. For its part, Bayworld cannot be seen as a circus for sea animals but rather an integrated hub for research,” Jordaan remarked.

Concluding his speech, Jordaan said the signed agreement would make would the city responsible for the managing and developing of Bayworld, while the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) would function as an agent to provide guidance and attract investment.

Prior to Jordaan’s address, MBDA CEO Pierre Voges said it was no surprise that the city’s economy had gone backwards in recent years, and that so-called derelict assets have to be redeveloped, refreshed, reinvented and refreshed in order to raise their appeal.

“Between the upgraded Kings Beach and Something Good, Bayworld is the last decaying building that pulls the beachfront down and which needs to be address,” Voges said.

“We have however obtained a legal opinion as how to deal with Bayworld, with the next step being to debate what the future concept for the facility entails. The plans will be costed to determine the capital required and although we are not sure who much it will be, I can assure you we will find it”.

Referring to recent developments including the revised Tramsways building, upgrades at the Donkin and refurbishing of the historic Campanile bells, Voges said Bayworld rates an integral part of the five-year plan, and one, when completed, would provide a significant boost in economic growth and tourism.

In a similar reaction, NMMU Vice-Chancellor Derrick Swartz said the university views its partnership with Bayworld as key to provide a better understanding of the ocean and its contribution to the economy.

“This facility, with the university, can offer a range of opportunities to develop a new consciousness among young people who not only see themselves as future engineers of motorcars, building of bridges and working in the mining industry, but people working on and underneath the surface of the ocean. Together with NMMU, I believe this facility will offer an opportunity to make Port Elizabeth the maritime capital of the county,” Swartz said.

Speaking at a post event media briefing, Eastern Cape MEC for Recreation, Sports, Arts and Culture Pemmy Majodina said a lack of experience and capacity to run an institution such as Bayworld, along with aging infrastructure, was partially to blame for its decline after the advent of democracy, but that the handover signals a new beginning in its history.

“We want to embrace the development of this municipality and ensure that the provincial sphere of government respect the local sphere. We are very thankful that the Executive Mayor embraced this call, and also happy that the MBDA and NMMU have agreed to be part of it,” Majodina said.

Quizzed on whether the facility’s iconic dolphins could return from Hong Kong, Majodina said discussions would commence once the dolphin pool, which last saw use in 2009, had been repaired.

“When we reopened the snake park and oceanarium, people started saying we want our dolphins back. The process that took them away must be same and once the pool ready, they must come”.