City spends mil­lions to fence parks and boost se­cu­rity

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JA­NIS KIN­N­EAR

PARKS which have be­come turf for drug deal­ing by gangs, and those which are re­peat­edy van­dalised, are be­ing se­cured with fences by the City of Cape Town.

An­nu­ally, more than R135 mil­lion has been spent by the city on re­pairs, said Belinda Walker, mayco mem­ber for com­mu­nity ser­vices and spe­cial projects.

Play equip­ment had been van­dalised, ex­ist­ing fenc­ing stolen, and park benches set alight.

“In some in­stances, the parks are not ac­ces­si­ble af­ter dark due to gangs mak­ing use of parks to op­er­ate their tik (sell­ing of drugs) busi­nesses,” Walker added.

In an ef­fort to curb re­peated van­dal­ism and beef up se­cu­rity at parks, the city ini­ti­ated the fenc­ing project two years ago. But the ma­te­ri­als to have the grounds se­cured are not cheap; pal­isade fenc­ing costs around R1 100 per me­tre com­pared with di­a­mond mesh fenc­ing, which the city used pre­vi­ously and which costs about R600 a me­tre.

“The city has only re­cently started fenc­ing off parks as fenc­ing is a very costly ex­er­cise, and it will be im­pos­si­ble to fence off the more than 3 300 parks across the city,” Walker said.

Since the launch of the project, a fur­ther R25m has been made avail­able to the city to de­velop and up­grade parks through the Depart­ment of Hu­man Set­tle­ment’s Ur­ban Set­tle­ment De­vel­op­ment Grant.

About 120 parks have al­ready been fenced off, but the pub­lic still en­joys ac­cess dur­ing the day. Th­ese in­clude El­iz­a­beth Park, Bel­lville; Ma­jik For­est, Wel­ge­moed; Bhunga Park, Langa; Lau­ren­tia Park, Ma­cas­sar and Wall­flower Park, Mitchells Plain.

While Walker be­lieves the pub­lic should ul­ti­mately have ac­cess to the parks at all times, in some ar­eas plagued by gang­ster­ism, crime and drugs, she said the city had ap­pointed lo­cal res­i­dents to open the park’s gates in the morn­ings, and lock them again at sun­set.

Ar­eas in which parks have also been ear­marked for fenc­ing in­clude Delft and Khayelit­sha.

Walker said the fences had helped the city man­age the park vicin­ity, and in cer­tain ar­eas this had re­sulted in a marked re­duc­tion in van­dal­ism.

ja­nis.kin­n­ear@inl.co.za

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