Urban decay

posted in: Comment 3

My informant John Taylor wrote in with a comment about a recent trip through the Durban CBD which came as a bit of a shock to him. I had many of the same feelings even though I left the place nearly two years ago. Here’s what he had to say:

There are a number of accounts of the Durban CBD at various times in Durban’s history by various contributors to FAD (one of them being me).

It was a reasonably elegant place.

I haven’t had any reason to visit the CBD for some time, but a few days ago on a late Saturday afternoon I drove down West Street (or whatever obscure political activist’s name the street now bears) and I was shocked at how badly urban decay had set in, as well as the amount of filth and rubbish strewn around the pavements and street. The place was hardly recognisable from the CBD residing in my memory banks!

I guess that, like Johannesburg, the new Durban CBD has moved north, leaving the old behind, as a consequence of political and demographic change, and the fact that much of South Africa is seriously third world in nature.

Despite this reality I could not help but feel great sadness at the state of a once great city.

Perhaps some of FAD’s readers and contributors also have comments and observations in this respect?

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3 Responses

  1. Neill Jackson
    | Reply

    Urban decay would be putting it mildly…the haunted look on the faces of the remaining faithful really struck a chord with me…the town centre is a 100% no go area, ditto most of the beach front as we knew it, Albert Park/Tropicale infested with hordes from the Congo etc etc. The only positive as I saw it was the new airport being situated on the North Coast means that one doesnt have to take one’s life in there hands by driving through the city centre. Umlangha Rocks thriving and relatively safe to party however the rest of Durbs seems to shut down by 2100hrs. Stopped at Innes Road to take a pic of the new soccer stadium one night at about 2030hrs…then drove to Durban North and didnt pass a single car either way !!!! People living locked up in the fortress like homes probably with their hands clutching the call out alarms…Cant see myself returning and just ever thankful that I too experienced most of the places highlighted in various posts on here…

    Misappropiation of city funds rampant, Durban Country Club has the feeling of a seventies shebeen, Beachwood Golf Course deserted with the mangroves infested with illegals….majority of car guards from the Congo… hijackings at 0730 rife, the good old beach breaks at BoP/North Beach ruined by the new replacement piers….Stellawood cemetry a no go area and so on…saw the sad sight of a middle aged couple trudging wearily up Florida Rd…possessions wrapped in a cloth bag heading for Mitchell Park to get their heads down….every set of lights has masses of street kids begging…( these poor little guys disappeared during the World Cup…nobody could tell me where they were sent too…

    Travel to the Valley of a Thousand Hills at your own peril …that is if you make it passed Mayville…Westville !!!!!

    The song says that”everything must change”…well Tegweni has and I fear it will only get worse..Please excuse the pessisism but cant see a solution….

    As always …thanx for the memories….make mine a Root Beer from the Polar Bar to wash down the Burger…


    • Chris Charlesworth

      Is this Neill Jackson of Hillary, Glenwood and then Westville ?? Brothers Gary & Greg ?

  2. Ed
    | Reply

    wow, I only just found this article. I was lucky to have visited Durban a few times back in the 80’s. I worked at the Boswell Wilkie Circus then. I used to enjoy the beach front, Raffles the nightclub many nights where spend there and the lift on the ouside was fantastic. In 1986 I even lived for a while in Malvern, Queensburgh and Pinetown…Best memory must have been Steak Egg and Strips at the Killarney Hotel, Durban’s centre at lunchtime….if you know you know lol. I cant believe the downfall

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