Chapmans Peak, in Cape Town. Photo: Matthew Jordaan
Civic groups and environmentalists have lashed out at plans to build a two-storey luxury office block on Chapman’s Peak Drive.
The building, part of the multimillion-rand toll plaza development on the world-famous scenic drive, will house the staff of Entilini, the private company that runs the toll road, and will be built on Table Mountain National Park land.
Philip Bam, deputy director of the Greater Cape Town Alliance, said Chapman’s Peak belonged to all South Africans. “No one has the right to claim it as their own. The reason we have SANParks is to protect our national parks and there is no way they should have allowed any encroachment on that. Parks should be sacrosanct. People do that route because they want to see nature, not concrete.”
Bam said he found it arrogant of Transport MEC Robin Carlisle to say that “nothing will make me believe” that the proposed office building was unlawful because it would be on national park land.
Lawyers acting for the Hout Bay Residents’ Association have said a resolution by Parliament is required before any part of a national park can be withdrawn.
Terry Wyner of the Civil Rights Action Group said: “We don’t need a monstrosity on the mountain with boardrooms and showers and entertainment rooms.
It upsets me that politicians can waste money on things like this and the next day say they have no money for essentials.”
Patrick Dowling of the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA said he would support an inquiry into the legality of using parks land for the office building.
“The toll road has been highly contentious from the beginning. The issue for the need for the toll road was not satisfactorily dealt with in the view of many citizens of Cape Town,” Dowling said.
He said the letter and spirit of the law should be adhered to. Making national park land available for a commercial activity such as this could set an unhealthy precedent for other national parks in the rest of the country, he said.
Hout Bay resident Penny Brown said yesterday: “It’s outrageous. They’re building a great big thing so they can have parties. The fact is it is totally unnecessary. We never needed the toll and all the fancy works either. They spent 10 times what was needed. Martin East engineering company put in a pre-bid for R20m to R35m to fix the road and make it safe to international standards. It was rejected. In the end we paid R159m for construction plus millions each year for maintenance and operation.
“They should redo the plans for the toll plaza. The office building should be reduced to an absolute minimum, and the main office should be in Hout Bay. It certainly should not be on national parks’ land. And the free day-pass must be kept. We’ve tried every option to get the authorities to change their minds, but they are not interested in what the public says,” Brown said. – Cape Times
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