Information center blues
Whilst an information center is supposed to be the first point of access for tourists and travelers coming and passing through the town, Kimberley Information Center does the exact opposite. Travelers have been complaining about the lack of toilets and safety at the center, with people traveling at night waiting for busses outside, as the office closes at 19:30 leaving them as easy targets for criminals.
Masego Gasebobe usually travels to Johannesburg every month to purchase stock for her business, she prefers taking the night bus so that she arrives in Johannesburg early in the morning. She says she does not feel safe waiting for the bus at the information center so she usually waits at the nearby garage as she once was robbed by street kids.
Senior Tourism Officer from Sol Plaatje Municipality, Romano Bezuidenhout explains that the municipality is aware of the issue at hand and are currently working on a plan to build a proper waiting area.
“We are aware of the issue at hand, three bus companies presented their plans and have been endorsed by the LED committee”.
The center’s outside toilets are said to have been vandalized and used by the homeless as a sleeping area, leaving the accessible toilets inside the center as the only toilets available, but only from 8:00-19:00 during the week, 09:00-12:00 on Saturdays. On Sundays, the information centre remains closed for the whole day.
Jason Strauss says having to use a dodgy corner every time someone has to urinate is not safe and inhumane especially for women when they are being targeted around the country. He adds that it would be great if there were security guards present during the night.
Members of the public plead with the South Africa Police Service to send its officers to the center at night to keep criminals away.
Bezuidenhout explains that it is the bus companies responsibility to ensure its commuters are safe and secured in an area that they requested from the municipality. The role of Sol Plaatje Municipality in this instance is therefore only to avail space for bus companies to better the current situation.
The Information Centre was a collaborative effort between the Frances Baard District Municipality and Sol Plaatje Municipality and previously saw the Information Centre operating from Monday- Friday from 08h00 – 17h00 and Saturday’s till 14h00. When Frances Baard District Municipality moved, it left a void and the front office staff commence work at 07h45 – 16h30 as per stipulations in their contracts with the Sol Plaatje Municipality. Due to financial constraints the contracts are yet to be amended.