Traf­fic is­land gar­dens on the verge of mak­ing a come­back

Coun­cil on the verge of heed­ing calls to restart wa­ter­thirsty project

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - • kailene.pillay@wit­ness.co.za

WIDE­SPREAD calls for traf­fic is­land flower and veg­etable gar­dens to make a come­back has been heard by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

The gar­dens that bright­ened up ev­ery­one’s daily com­mute through the city have been nonex­is­tent for a while now and no one re­ally knew why. All we knew was that our “Harvest Fri­days” and neat gar­dens greet­ing those sit­ting in traf­fic have turned to views of over­grown bush, dried leaves and branches fil­ter­ing onto the roads and a web of weeds.

There was talk that the city’s hor­ti­cul­tur­ist, Mbu­la­heni Tshiv­ase, aban­doned the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and moved to greener pas­tures in an­other city, but those ru­mours were doused by Msun­duzi mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son Thobeka Ma­fum­batha last week. Ma­fum­batha said Tshiv­ase is still em­ployed by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and they were all in talks to re­launch the gar­dens project.

Wit­ness War­riors’ read­ers were all for the gar­dens to re­turn when we posted a pic­ture of the once im­mac­u­late traf­fic is­land out­side North­dale Hos­pi­tal.

Mervin Arthur Naidoo said the gar­den project was “ab­so­lutely bril­liant”.

“It brought smiles to our faces to see the beauty of these gar­dens on a daily ba­sis. Ev­ery­thing looks old and bro­ken now. The streets are filthy and man­holes over­flow­ing,” he said.

Michelle Mas­son said it was a plea­sure to see the en­vi­ron­ment be­ing taken care of, but it was “short­lived”.

“It was such a plea­sure to see the traf­fic is­lands burst­ing with colour and the odd quirky fig­urines made me laugh out loud,” said El­ize van Jaarsveld.

Hereen God­ley Pyle rem­i­nisced about the time she first moved to Pi­eter­mar­itzburg. Pyle said the city was “flower­filled” and she fondly re­mem­bered the strik­ing aza­leas that lined the streets.

“It was quite spec­tac­u­lar in Town­bush Road along Set­tlers Park, now de­stroyed since the ar­rival of the taxi rank op­po­site Grey’s Hos­pi­tal,” Pyle said. She also men­tioned the lush lawns of the May­oral Gar­dens in Alexan­dra Park. “Now that space leaves a lot to be de­sired,” Pyle said. Other read­ers ques­tioned whether the gar­den project was fea­si­ble con­sid­er­ing the city found it­self in deep trou­ble with the drought hit­ting the city hard. “Frankly the veg­etable patches were not a sus­tain­able so­lu­tion for the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg verges. The labour cost and time spent should have been used to plant wa­ter­wise plants and rock­eries so the un­sightly weeds would not be a prob­lem now,” said Ra­mona Reddy­Madu­ray.

Kate Watts raised the is­sue that with the ter­ri­ble drought, the gar­dens were not sus­tain­able.

Ma­fum­batha con­firmed the project was sus­pended due to the drought. She said the city man­agers had to make the de­ci­sion to sup­ply the wa­ter to the res­i­dents rather than the plants.

But since we now find our­selves a lit­tle out of the dan­ger zone, the city is look­ing at restart­ing the gar­den project.

With all the un­easi­ness about tar­iff in­creases, salary glitches, power out­ages and just com­plete loss of faith in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, the cit­i­zens of Msun­duzi need the gar­dens to re­turn.

Our city should not be a fail­ing one, and if beau­ti­ful gar­dens can pick up the res­i­dents’ spir­its even a lit­tle, why not?

#BringBack­PMBGar­dens

PHO­TOS: FILE

The once beau­ti­ful and well­kept veg­etable and flower gar­dens planted by hor­ti­cul­tur­ist Mbu­la­heni Tshiv­ase.

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