No, Mr Carlisle

Editorial: Cape Times

January 12, 2012

NO, Mr Carlisle, the Cape Times did not get its facts wrong about the plan to build an office block on part of the Table Mountain National Park.

The MEC for transport can huff and puff as much as he likes about “shoddy journalism”; he can even use four letter words on radio to describe the Cape Times article: we stand by our report.

Whatever Carlisle may say about the “Chapman’s Peak toll plaza”– that it is not “a great office rearing up the side of the mountain”, but a two-storey building “designed not to be intrusive”; that the toll booths and the office building will cost only R13 million; and that all this will be built “into the unsightly quarry on the mountain” – the fact remains that with the connivance of SANParks, the province is handing over a chunk of the Table Mountain National Park to a private company.

So what if the office block is only two-storeys high, if the plaza is “attractive and environmentally appropriate” and if the quarry is “the ugliest feature on the mountain”?

So what if this deal is an attempt to undo the mistakes made by a previous administration in awarding a ridiculously favourable contract to Entilini, the operators of the toll? So what if it is more “efficient” from Entilini’s perspective to build the offices at the gate?

Quarries can be rehabilitated and Entilini can build its luxury offices elsewhere – and, whatever Carlisle may say, these are indeed luxury offices, complete with board room, lobby, meeting rooms and several terraces including a roof terrace.

So what if many of the picnic sites and hiking routes fall outside the tolled section of the road?

In passing we note Carlisle’s disingenuous attempt to wriggle out of a commitment he made in March last year – we have the written record – to scrap the free day passes for picnickers and even to manage the public fallout from their removal. So much the better if he has now seen the error of his ways and is now “not in favour of the removal of the day passes”.

There is simply no acceptable reason to cede to a private company a part, however small and “ugly”, of a mountain which, as the MEC so rightly says, belongs to the people of Cape Town.

2 comments to No, Mr Carlisle

  • Louis de Villiers

    From the original agreement to engage with Entilini to repair the road and impose a toll and the very shabby agreement allowing them to make a profit regardless off ratepayers, this Chapman’s Peak issue stinks to high heaven. We remain entirely unconvinced that the catch fences and other intrusive works were required or that they are in any way beneficial. And the opposition to the tolling of the road remains wide-ranging and consistent. It is also interesting to note how SANParks are happy to come to agreements like these with commercial operators whilst failing to demonstrate ability and commitment to the best management of the natural heritage entrusted to it in the interests of the natural environment and current and future generations. Well done GCTCA and Cape Times for publicising the facts and opposing these disgraceful political maneuvers.

  • Bruce Smith

    We the people will no longer tolerate the obsequious appeasement of business interests by the Provincial Minister and National Parks. We expected more from the DA led Province. The Ministers patronising attitude to residents’ and civic concerns has sparked what may well become a groundswell of resistance. We will defend our heritage and citizens’ rights to the bitter end. Be warned.

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