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Bayworld in Gqeberha to receive much-awaited facelift


The much-anticipated refurbishment of Bayworld in Gqeberha kicked off on Monday with the demolition of the old tropical tank and part of the predator tank ahead of the redevelopment scheduled to start in January.

The project is being led by the Mandela Bay Development Agency as the first "humble step" towards a green, multi-use precinct stretching over 55 hectares from the old rugby stadium to the sea – encompassing 13 catalytic projects worth over R6 billion.

“The overall aim is to create a “green” development to conserve and promote the region’s unique biodiversity and cultural heritage, featuring green spaces and eco-friendly and adventure activities in a safe and diversified destination for locals and tourists,” said CEO, Anele Qaba.

Representatives from Bayworld, the MBDA, Eastern Cape Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts, and Culture, as well as Executive Mayor Gary van Niekerk, gathered at the facility to witness the beginning of the demolition, with the initial phase to be completed by the end of the week.

About 74 marine animals, including seals and penguins along with sea turtles, will be housed in a temporary structure on the premises while the upgrades are underway.

According to the MBDA once the demolition is completed, the flattened area will be levelled and landscaped so that it can be used for outdoor visitor engagement, learning, and events such as building art
pieces from recycled marine waste.  The animals will be returned to their pools.

The design of the "new" oceanarium has not yet been finalised as they were still researching and looking for funding for the project.

MBDA director, Luvuyo Mini, said the plan is to redevelop the facility into a state-of-the-art oceanarium on the standard of the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town and uShaka Marine World in Durban.

"The upgrades are also aimed at boosting the local economy."

Executive Mayor Gary van Niekerk reminisced about the school trips to Bayworld as a child. He also welcomed the project and said he trusted the MBDA to execute the plans to transform Bayworld into a state-of-the-art facility.

"It is important that we restore and transform this facility that has already served generations of children, me included, at the rate of 100,000 schoolchildren visiting per year. We need this as a building block of child development and environmental awareness, and a star attraction on this prime beachfront land," Van Niekerk added.