Cape Town - All buildings on Robben Island will be moved so that the island can be used exclusively to save the Western Cape Leopard Toad from extinction.
In an unprecedented show of co-operation, four government departments have tirelessly worked together over the last 12 months to find a way to save the endangered Leopard Toad, on the brink of extinction as a result of a rapidly disappearing natural habitat.
The toad can be saved if a suitably protected area is established to protect the species. However, rampant development all across the peninsula has eliminated most if not all suitable sites.
Prominent Cape Town Herpetologists are unanimous that there is only one site in the Western Cape that would be ideal: Robben Island.
But Robben Island is a World Heritage Site and attracts thousands of visitors daily which would be detrimental to a sensitive eco system required for the continued existence of the toad. The protected area needs to be largely people free for the toads to prosper.
And this is how the departments of Water and Environment Affairs, Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Tourism and Arts and Culture as well as the Robben Island Museum came together and devised the ingenious plan to “move” the Robben Island World Heritage Site to the Blauwberg Nature Reserve on the West Coast, adjacent to the Atlantic Beach Golfing Estate. The site is approximately the same size as Robben Island, making it the ideal spot.
Each element of the infrastructure comprising the heritage site, including the maximum and medium security prison complexes, Robert Sobukwe’s house, the curio and village shops, the village precinct and associated recreational facilities, the helipad and runway on the Island, World War II memorials, power generation and water processing plants and also Jetty 1, will be carefully dismantled and re-assembled at the new location.
A small boat harbour will be built at Blaauwberg to accommodate the existing ferry service, preserving the unique experience of reaching the isolated heritage site from the V & A Waterfront. This also ensures that the investment in the Robben Island ferries is not wasted.
The view from the window of the cell of Nelson Mandela will be indistinguishable from the original, sources said. The plan is to replicate the experience of visiting the existing heritage site as closely as possible.
The island will be rehabilitated to its pristine state once the existing infrastructure has been removed, preparing the way for the re-introduction of the endangered Leopard Toad.
There will be minimal human activity on the island.
The Public Services Department will be tasked with executing the plan.
According to sources, the opening of the new heritage site is planned for April 1, 2015 and the budget will not exceed R246 million.
A spokesperson from mayor’s office says the City of Cape Town welcomes the plan.
“We will propose to the minister that spare ferry capacity be offered to MyCiti ticket holders as an alternative commuter service between the West Coast and the city”, the spokesperson said.
Parliament votes on the proposal on Tuesday. - IOL