Garden Route Rebuild plans
The Garden Route Rebuild Initiative (GRRI) was brought about after the June fires to create a single point of contact for the rebuilding of the Garden Route, as not only Knysna was affected but many other towns in its surrounds.
On 31 October a public participation meeting was held at the Knysna town hall, with about 50 residents, counsellors and officials in attendance.
Knysna municipal manager Kam Chetty started off the session by explaining that the GRRI was a long-term initiative encompassing the entire Garden Route, building crucial relationships between the towns in the region.
“This meeting is about the sharing of ideas and we need the community’s input to help us identify the most important areas we need to focus on – not only to rebuild the Garden Route but to make it better,” he said. Dr Hildegarde Fast, chairperson of the initiative, reiterated Chetty’s statement that the initial meetings with the public was about getting together ideas. “The GRRI facilitates the involvement of numerous stakeholders. The GRRI can organise resources and funding for other initiatives and projects, but we need a plan going forward to present to our national stakeholders,” she said. During the meeting, posters with all aspects related to the rebuild were placed along the walls of the town hall, with experts on hand to assist residents with their queries and ideas, which they were encouraged to write down on special blank posters.
More about the GRRI
The GRRI needs to coordinate all stakeholders so that their efforts may be aligned and maximised. This includes the coordination of all financial requests in order to submit an application to the National Disaster Management Fund.
Furthermore, there are two phases of the GRRI:
Addressing the immediate crises and formalising a project management office to support projects.
To date, seven workstreams have been established, namely reconstruction, infrastructure, humanitarian, skills development, business support, funding and resources, and environmental management.
Short-term interventions and projects like the removal of asbestos-contaminated rubble, the facilitation of short-term housing solutions and the stabilisation of slopes have already started, among others.
The timeline for this phase started in July and will end in December.
Called the “build back better” phase, it aims at long-term success.
The objective of this phase is developing a long-term strategy to revitalise the economy and “build back better”.
This phase includes setting an overall vision for response and recovery, conducting a landscape assessment to identify potential interventions, identifying flagship projects, and communicating with the community.
This phase should start by January 2018 and will continue forward.
Residents were eager to write down ideas they had for the rebuilding of the Garden Route.
GRRI chair Dr Hildegarde Fast (left) and Eden disaster manager Gerhard Otto were on hand to assist residents at a public meeting on 31 October in Knysna town hall.