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Monday Sep 03, 2012

Durban to spend R497m on new central library

eThekwini municipality council unanimously authorised this week the development of a new central library for Durban at a cost of half a billion rand.

The R497 million mega library, which the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, Sport and Recreation said was "long overdue", will be built in the CBD, next to the Workshop shopping complex.

The announcement was first made by MEC, Ntombikayise SibhidlaSaphetha in June during her budget speech at the KZN provincial legislature.

She said that Durban would be the biggest beneficiary of an overhaul of the province's libraries and that the five libraries in the city would be combined into "one massive centre of information".

The bulk of the cost, R440m, will be paid for by the department over three years. An additional R25m will come from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the balance will be provided by the municipality.

Department spokesman Mluleki Mntungwa said the plan was to build a 15 000m library to provide for a larger book collection with additional study rooms.

"We are still in the conceptual stage, we plan to start building early next year," he said. "We aim to complete it in three years," he said.

At the time the DAcalled for an investigation into the cost of the library with the party's spokesman for Arts and Culture, George Mari, saying the amount could have been used to build an additional 15 libraries where the need was far greater.

There was general agreement, however, during a full council meeting on Thursday that the library would benefit the community of eThekwini, especially students at different tertiary institutions.

But the party supported the resolution for a new library this week.

Municipal chief whip, councillor Stanley Xulu, said the construction of the library was part of the fulfilment of one of the five priorities of government, which is improving the level of education.

City manager Sibusiso Sithole and delegated officials have been authorised to engage potential funders to obtain the additional money required for the project.

The Independent on Sunday

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