The annual funfair in East London is no more.
When the festive season was officially kicked off by Buffalo City mayor Xola Pakati at the Esplanade last week, the funfair, traditionally an integral part of the summer lineup, was missing in action.
Usually found on the open piece of land in front of the Osner Hotel, the funfair offered a variety of games and rides for children and adults, and had become synonymous with East London’s festive season.
The Buffalo City Metro Development agency’s Oyama Makalima told the Dispatch that despite a tender for the service being advertised twice, no-one had applied.
“The playland is not on this year. There was no interest from the market. The market did not respond positively after the advert was issued. We do not know why,” Makalima said.
In any event, it would have been the last time the fair would be held at the beachfront, because plans are afoot to develop a multimillion-rand facility to cater to tourists.
Makalima said the agency would begin breaking ground for an ambitious project including an amphitheatre, an information centre, ablution facilities, hawker stalls, seating areas, a water feature and drinking fountains at the beachfront in February.
The Waterworld Fun Park in the western part of the city will also be upgraded.
Makalima said a contractor had been selected and would be appointed before Christmas.
“This is the last year that Court Crescent (open land) will look this way. These improvements are necessary and will signal the beginning of our mission to improve the city’s attractiveness to tourists as well as improve the property value in the Quigney area.”
Makalima said when the project was completed, the financial spin-offs for the city would be considerable.
“The multilayer effect of tourism in creating jobs cannot be overstated. We are also very clear that these types of amenities are what the people of the metro and their visitors deserve and expect from a modern, advancing, coastal metro.”
BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said of the development: “This is a signal that the city is now prioritising service delivery.
“Prime land is meant for development and job creation and this is something that in the long run will stimulate our economy and develop the beachfront, which in turn leads to more development and many more funfairs.”
Not everyone is happy, however.
Parent Aviwe Sabi said without the funfair, children would be “bored” at the beachfront.