Chappies tree fellers win after stand-off (plus video)

Cape Times : March 2, 2012
Melanie Gosling
Environment Writer

 

Protesters tried to stop contractors moving on to SANParks land at the Chapman's Peak toll plaza construction site yesterday to begin felling a stand of bluegums. Photo: Brenton Geach

THERE was a heated stand-off between protesters, Entilini construction staff and the provincial authorities yesterday when tree fellers moved on site to cut down a stand of bluegums to make way for the controversial R54 million Chapman’s Peak toll plaza and luxury office.

This was the first move by the construction company on to SanParks land.

So far, all work has been done in the road reserve.

Some of about 12 placard-carrying protesters who were collecting signatures for the anti-toll petition tried to stop the fellers’ bakkie from entering the construction site by standing between the vehicle and the gates to the site.

The bakkie driver moved forward slowly, while the group tried to push it back. Protester Wendy Paarman held on to the driver’s arm through the window.

“Please, you have no right to cut those trees,” she said. “They’re on SANParks land, not the road reserve. Please understand, this is our mountain, our money.”

Paarman then leaned in and took the driver’s keys.

Two of the Haw & Inglis staff, who did not want to give their names, told the protesters to leave, saying Entilini had a high court order preventing any unauthorised people from entering the site. Attorney Manndi Schuld rejoined that they were getting the court order scrapped as it was unconstitutional.

Earlier, a passing resident paced out 12.5 metre from the centre of the road on to the site and told the protesters they should stand beyond that point as it was SANParks land, which was public land.

Paarman and fellow protester Billy Bruins stood there in front of one of the trees, holding a poster that read: “Murray and Roberts you don’t need this. Stop.”

Five police officers arrived and asked them to leave.

After a while, one of the workers started his chainsaw and began cutting down the trees at the other end of the site.

Eventually, a senior police officer arrived and persuaded the two women to leave.

Malcolm Watters, a senior official at the provincial Department of Roads, was present, but did not want to comment.

Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said the trees were being felled to create a temporary bypass. He said construction of the toll plaza was going ahead. “The only way to change due process is by law. No one has told us to stop.”

 In reply to the above: “Our counsel did not draft the papers for an urgent interdict to prevent the cutting of the trees yesterday afternoon (1st March) because he was advised that such an undertaking (that trees would not be cut down) would be forthcoming, but at approximately 7.30 pm yesterday night he was informed that the undertaking would not be given. We have just been informed (morning of 2nd March) that workmen on the site are preparing to cut the trees.
– See: – Urgent Interdict: Tree removal Chapman’s Peak Drive

Video: Tree felling at the controversial building site of a proposed R54 million office block and tolling station on the Unesco World heritage Site, Chapman’s Peak Drive. Thursday, 1 march 2012.

Thanks to Jess Morgan who succinctly gets to the heart of the Chapman’s Peak debacle in this video.

THE CALL

To: Provincial Government of Western Cape, SANParks, Murray & Roberts;

We the people of South Africa call for:

  1. A halt to construction;
  2. The introduction of electronic tolling;
  3. The removal of the present toll booms and containers;
  4. No toll plaza or building on Chapman’s Peak (either in the road reserve or in the TMNP/World Heritage site) ;
  5. The present day pass system to remain in perpetuity.

THE STATEMENT

To: Provincial Government of Western Cape, SANParks, Murray & Roberts;

  • STOP DAMAGING A WORLD HERITAGE SITE
  • SPEND TAX PAYER’S MONEY ON SCHOOLS, HOUSING & CLINICS
  • RESPECT OUR NATIONAL PARKS
  • PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT FOR OUR CHILDREN
  • STOP VIOLATING THE SOUTH AFRICAN CONSTITUTION

The Protect Chapman’s Peak Movement (PCPM)

What YOU can do……

CONTACT the following:

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