YOLANDE DU PREEZ
Imizamo Yethu residents can soon look forward to a “beautified IY” with the Hout Bay gateway precinct project which is well under way.
The R5 million rand project, which is expected to be complete by the end of April, will upgrade the intersection at the entrance to Imizamo Yethu, pave walkways along Main and NR Mandela roads and build retaining walls to stabilise soil embankments and reduce water run-off during winter.
Other improvements include building low seating walls for the community, lighting to increase visibility and playground equipment for the children as well as the planting of trees.
Community leader Mzi Nkayi said the community was excited about the project, which they call “Beautify IY.”
He said the upgrade had initially been part of a programme the City of Cape Town started to benefit tourism during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
“The project was due to start in 2009 as Imizamo Yethu is a tourist destination, but due to technicalities the project was delayed,” he said.
Following discussions between the City, community leaders and Sub-council 16, last year, the project gained new momentum.
Mr Nkayi said Sub-council 16’s job-seekers’ database was used to appoint local labour and a project liaison manager.
He said the project would have huge benefits for Imizamo Yethu: children get a safe playground and the new pavements will make it easier getting school, catching a bus or a taxi or visiting the clinic.
Traders will be able to use the paved areas to sell their goods and residents can sit and take in their surroundings from the vantage of the low seating walls.
Most importantly, Mr Nkayi said, the retaining wall would prevent flooding.
“Year after year, residents suffer damages due to flooding. They lose everything including food on the table,” he said.
Johan van der Merwe, Mayco member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, said minor stormwater system upgrades were being done to stem the run-off from the mountain.
The walls themselves, he said, would help to prevent soil erosion.
“The City’s greatest motivation for this project was to create a quality public space area for the community, and the upgrade of the Imizamo Yethu entrance provided the City with the ideal opportunity to do so,” he said.
The City has appointed an artist to work with artists from Imizamo Yethu to create mosaic art on some of the walls which are being built. This artwork can be seen on the traffic circle at the intersection.
“Involving artists from the local community in this creative process of the project has worked really well. We are happy to support artists with an opportunity to express their unique talents in an enduring quality public space that reflects the strength and potential of the community,” Mr Van der Merwe said.
Mr Nkayi said there were many positive changes happening in Imizamo Yethu and the Gateway project was just one of them.
Hout Bay police station commander Lieutenant Colonel Bongani Mtakati said the lighting and retaining wall were “very welcome.”
“Any lighting in Imizamo Yethu is a step in the right direction and will help with visibility and police and neighbourhood watch patrolling.
“We definitely need more lights in other areas of Imizamo Yethu too but this is a good start,” he said.