SANParks update on rehabilitation of Rhodes Memorial section of Table Mountain
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Cape Town - SANParks addressed the concerns of stakeholders and users of the Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP) with an update regarding the rehabilitation of the Rhodes Memorial Section of the Table Mountain National Park and the Rhodes Memorial Restaurant, after the runaway mountain fire in April earlier this year.
TMNP spokesperson Babalwa Dlangamandla said the fire destroyed more than 650 hectares of land and an assessment of the burnt area identified about 280 burnt trees for felling along Rhodes Memorial, of which the felling operations were set to be completed by the end of November.
“Partial reopening of the area has been granted to users by TMNP management, which allows hikers, runners, cyclists, etc, to make use of the area through the turnstile located at the main entrance. Vehicle access is not permitted at this stage, as felling operations continue,” said TMNP manager Frans van Rooyen.
Dlangamandla said the fire assessment at the Rhodes Tea Room/Restaurant had been completed and the insurers had appointed a heritage architect to oversee the construction work, as well as contractors to clean the damaged area and safeguard parts of the building, to assess if some building material could be reused.
“If the park decides to rebuild the restaurant, Heritage Western Cape (HWC) will have to approve the plans,” said Dlangamandla.
Park Forum chairperson Stephen Floyd said they appreciated SANParks’ increased communication with TMNP stakeholders regarding the Rhodes Memorial rehabilitation, and indications were that ongoing public focus on these developments will assist in reducing unnecessary delays.
While Parkscape appreciated the communication, chairperson of community safety group Nicky Schmidt said they were concerned that SANParks indicated an “if” around the rebuilding of the site.
“There should be commitment to sympathetically rebuild the restaurant, in line with not only the existing heritage guidelines and Herbert Baker design, but to also extend the heritage value to incorporate culture informants, that brings indigenous heritage into the equation,” said Schmidt.
“We would like to urge SANParks, the Department of Public Works, and HWC, to work with the public and small businesses, to expedite the rehabilitation and further sustainable development of this area,” said Friends Of Table Mountain chairperson Andy Davies.
Friends of Rhodes Memorial chairperson Gabriel Clark-Brown said the update excused the inept nature of SANParks, with their ability to take months to secure a tender, while other similarly affected areas like UCT, with just as many trees to felled, had long finished.