UCT Staff removing the books and documents from the Jagger Library, that was damaged by recent wild fires. Pictures: Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)
UCT Staff removing the books and documents from the Jagger Library, that was damaged by recent wild fires. Pictures: Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)

UCT Jagger library making good progress in recovery

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Jun 11, 2021

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Cape Town - There has been good progress on the UCT Jagger Library's salvage project, almost two months after the fire that struck the university’s upper campus in April.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said she was happy to report positive progress in the hard work people have put into recovering the archives from the Jagger basements, led by the UCT Libraries team.

Phakeng said the first steps of the process have been documented in a series of striking photographs, taken by colleagues in the Communication and Marketing Department.

UCT issued statistics into the scope of the salvage project: 10 000 items were in cold storage as part of the rehabilitation process for water-damaged materials, 12 900 crates were filled with materials to minimise handling during their removal from the basements, 2 000 volunteers helped throughout the project, worked five-hour shifts from 8am to 6pm, between April 21 and May 10, and it took 17 days to remove the materials from the Jagger Library basements.

"I thank everyone who played a role in this arduous process. We would not have made it this far without the help of individuals and organisations who provided what we needed to begin the salvage and conservation work, including materials, specialised equipment, financial donations, and muscle power," said Phakeng.

UCT student representative council (SRC) chairperson Declan Dyer said they were impressed by the assistance and the progress made, which they called for after the fire.

Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) manager Frans van Rooyen said the rehabilitation work that has been taking place, following the fire, has shown great progress.

Van Rooyen said the rehabilitation work has been successfully concluded at Devils Peak lower contour to Blockhouse and Tafelberg jeep track erosion gullies, “and this means some areas are ready to be opened".

He said more work was currently in progress in the Woodstock, Oppelskop, Blockhouse contour path to Newlands, Plumb pudding, as well as in the Rhodes Memorial lower jeep track water bars areas.

“We request users and visitors to these areas to continue exercising patience, and allow the rehabilitation work to proceed without any obstructions,” said Van Rooyen.

He said it was expected that the rehabilitation work would take a bit of time, as more than 600 hectares of land was affected by the fire.

“This is a big area, considering it took more than three days to completely put the fire out,” said Van Rooyen.

“South African National Parks (SANParks) appointed an independent investigator to look at the possible causes of the fire, and an investigation report will be made public in the coming weeks, with further announcements on more areas," he said.

Van Rooyen said the Park would announce the reopening of certain areas later this month, after they have engaged with their stakeholders.

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