The future of the Bayworld received some positive response in the Legislature that the provincial government should think critically about the facility to avoid it being lost as a prime asset for the Mandela Metro and the province.
Hon. John Cupido, who has been championing the future of Bayworld in the Legislature, again wanted to know from the MEC for Sport, Recreation, Art and Culture (DSRAC) what the Department’s immediate, short, medium- and long-term plans were for Bayworld. He also wanted to know what the possibilities were for outsourcing the running the facility or selling it.
The MEC. Xoliswa Tom, told the House: “It (Bayworld) must be looked at with critical minds, because at the end of the day we must not be left complaining. The Metro must also not be left complaining. Bayworld has a lot of attractions for visitors who come to the Metro.”
While the facility remained open to the public seven days a week, she admitted that most of the Oceanarium’s infrastructure, which was built in the early 1960s, was out of date and needed to the replaced.
She said a Service Level Agreement had been signed between the Department and the Mandela Metro. “The SLA regulates the respective roles and responsibilities of DSRAC and the Metro. Another SLA between the Nelson Mandela Metro and the Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs (Dedea) is being negotiated for signature in the very near future.”
A multiparty task team comprising DSRAC, the Metro, Dedea and the Department of Education had met several times since October last year.
Plans for the short term included decommissioning obsolete infrastructure. This required temporary relocation of some of the animals (seals, sharks and tropical fist) but providing for a small aquarium display to remain in the interim. The decommissioning would reduce the high running costs of the infrastructure.
For the medium-term provision was made for R10 million to build new displays in the Museum, Snake Park and Aquarium and to upgrade the electrical installation throughout the complex. Strategic partnerships were being explored to augment the educational and scientific work of the institution.
For the long term a new and fresh organisational and structural design was required which would meet the tourism, educational, heritage conservation and scientific mandate of the complex in alignment with strategic partners for the next 50 years.
The MEC said Bayworld could not be sold as it was built around a museum, which was legislated as a provincial competency.
“Public Private Partnership’s will be explored for investment and for some of the operations. Bayworld is recognised as an important economic generator – providing jobs, rendering key tourism services, and uplifting community experiences of their culture and their environment. It is a magnet around which a range of commercial and entertainment activities can be developed,” said she.