Chapman’s Peak a Cape Times Editorial : “PEAK HOUR”

Cape Times
June 7th, 2012

HOUT Bay residents have lost their court action to suspend construction of the Chapman’s Peak toll office on Table Mountain National Park land. 

They wanted to halt construction temporarily while they fought a separate case in which they hoped the court would find that construction of this commercial building on national park land was indeed unlawful.

The provincial government had failed to comply with several pieces of legislation, including having the piece of national park – no matter how small -deproclaimed. 

The residents were no doubt hoping any attempt at deproclaming national park land, which is afforded the highest protection possible, would be unsuccessful. That would then put an end to the toll office on Chapman’s Peak Drive.

The court saw it differently Judge Bennie Griesel found that by insisting on the provincial government going through additional legal “hoops”, the residents were simply delaying, not preventing, construction of the toll office. He said halting it temporarily would mean great financial cost to the province, “without any tangible benefits accruing to anyone”. 

This case was a last-ditch effort by the public after a series of attempts to prevent the toll plaza buildings from being built in the middle of one of the most spectacular and unspoilt areas on our coast. 

The real tragedy is that it should have come to this. Years ago another engineering company offered to repair and maintain Chapman’s Peak Drive, at a fraction of the cost, without a toll. That offer was rejected, for no sound reason. SANParks said when the toll was first mooted that it did not want it anywhere along Chapman’s Peak Drive. This was ignored. There was a huge public outcry at the proposed tolling of the road – now R62 for a round trip of 18km – but the outcry came to nothing. There was considerable public opposition to the toll buildings during the environmental impact assessment, but the authorities approved it The land was taken without following the country’s environmental laws, but that appears not to matter. 

Perhaps the biggest loser will be public confidence. If the government can get away with activities that flout its own laws – and use public money to fight citizens who try to hold it to account in court- why should anyone bother?



1 comment to Chapman’s Peak a Cape Times Editorial : “PEAK HOUR”

  • I M Peeved

    Oh dear. I think the editorial has it spot on. This is how I feel more and more. Why bother when the government or province can simply ride roughshod over us – with our own money.

    The simple issue remains. They do not have permission to build within TMNP. That this will cost us (province) money is not sufficient an argument I would have thought. DA appears to be driven by economics more than any other value and the environment must just fit in or f-off.

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