'Dire' state of Robben Island under the spotlight

Cape Town – In an effort to up the overall visitor experience, Robben Island Museum has called on the private sector to assist in a comprehensive management overhaul.

IOL reports that Robben Island Museum chief executive, Sibongiseni Mkhize said on Monday that the island had been battling poor quality service and mismanagement for a number of years and that they realised the only way to meet goals and objectives was to involve the right people.

In order to set the ball rolling, he invited companies and organisations to submit proposals to aid in the restructuring and reorganising process.

The museum currently employs 196 people.

Apart from reports of poor visitor experiences from tourists, the island has also been struggling to fulfill all the requirements of maintaining their UNESCO World Heritage Site Status.

Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Nomafrench Mbombo, responded to Mkhize’s call for proposals in a media statement on Tuesday, saying that she agreed that urgent intervention was needed to improve the “dire state of Robben Island,” but believed the Western Cape Government could assist in the process.

“While we welcome the possibility of a public-private partnership in this regard, we believe the solid proposals we have, could go a long way in providing much needed solutions to the dire state of Robben Island,” she said.

Mbombo went on to explain that the Western Cape Government had repeatedly called on national government to relinquish some of the management rights to the provincial government for a better and more effective running of the museum.

Some of the suggestions that have been made include making the Robben Island Museum financial audits public for effective accountability and privatising the ferry system, which will in effect, create economic opportunities for some of the former prisoners.

“The fact that the museum runs the risk of losing its World Heritage Status and crucial functions like running the ferry system, have fallen by the way side is an indictment on our national government. It is an absolute shame that this iconic site is marred by gross mismanagement and is failing at performing even the simplest tasks.” she concluded. 

Have you visited Robben Island recently? What was your overall experience right? Where do you think they could improve? Tell us in the comment section below.