WITH minimal security measures in place at Nelson Mandela Bay Metro’s 24 public libraries, thousands of rands are being spent on repairs.
Although provisions were made in the 2019/2020 financial year to accommodate libraries in the metro, they still remain inadequately protected, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spokesperson, Mzobanzi Jikazana, said.
This comes as libraries are being vandalised due to the lack of security in the metro, resulting in library staff fearing for their lives.
According to the metro’s DA spokesperson for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Margaret de Andrade, the annual grant provided by the province, does not include maintenance and only subsidises staff salaries.
De Andrade meanwhile brought forward the resolution and says adding extra security at all libraries in the metro, will help keep the community resources a welcoming place for all. She expressed that although restocking and repairing the libraries were necessary, the safety of the children, parents and staff was also important, as the community had to be protected at all times.
“Libraries provide so much to so many in terms of engagement, learning and belonging, regardless of what social difficulties exist in a city. Something needs to be done to secure the safety of the community, staff members, as well as keeping the libraries in a proper state,” De Andrade said.
THE North End Library had recently been forced to close its doors earlier than usual due to safety and security concerns.
The steel entry control gate does not cover the entire entrance, which serves little purpose as there is easy access for any crime perpetrator, de Andrade said.
She explained that during an oversight visit to the North End Library, the alarm system was activated every few hours. However, the security company did not once respond.
Last year, the repairs at the recently vandalised Chatty Library, amounted to more than R200 000.
The windows were smashed and chairs and documents were thrown around.
De Andrade added that if proper security measures were provided, there would be a clear decrease in vandalism at the libraries.
According to Jikazana, the municipality currently has an extensive refurbishment project underway at the old Port Elizabeth Main Library, situated in the north-western corner of Market Square.
This project makes provision for new features, which include roof repairs, a fire detection upgrade and electrical installation upgrades.
Jikazana said that phase one of the project had been completed and phase two, the rectification and refurbishment work, is underway.
Asked what plans the municipality had put in place to curb vandalism at the metro libraries, Jikazana said that there were budgetary constraints which were being attended to.
He added, “There are plans in place to put CCTV cameras, armed response and security services in general in place, pending budget availability.”
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