WINDHOEK – The face of Windhoek’s neglected public spaces stretching over some 20km from Goreangab Dam to Avis Dam along the Klein Windhoek River could change forever with an ambitious plan by the Windhoek Riverwalk Project in collaboration with the City of Windhoek. Some 3 000 house owners, various businesses and the unemployed stand to benefit from this initiative which is in the process of finalising the urban design framework for a relatively cheap face-lift of the capital by creating a recreational spine through the city. Details of the master plan emerged last week during a public lecture where speakers Allastair Rendall from Cape Town and local architect Leon Barnard asked a packed hall at the Polytechnic Hotel School for their support to revitalise the capital’s rivers for economic growth and social cohesion. The Windhoek Riverwalk Project, a private company, is an initiative of Barnard in collaboration with the City of Windhoek and the Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning of the Polytechnic of Namibia. Rendall, an architect and urban designer from Cape Town, was brought on board for his experience in private practice and NGOs in the delivery of high-quality public sector projects in Cape Town and Rustenburg. Barnard says Windhoek is one of the cleanest places to live in “but unfortunately also one of the worst planned cities,” resulting in the perception that riverbeds are criminal hide-outs, filthy and polluted places, subjected to occasional floods. “This perception will be changed by our project which will cost less than N$150 million with financial support already promised by the City of Windhoek as it fits in perfectly with their urban planning strategy. Safety of people in these planned recreational areas - which will include playgrounds, mini-gyms, walking paths and cycling routes, horse-riding trails as well as the potential for small-scale businesses and even mini-agriculture - is a priority. Rest assured, it will be very safe, as so many people on the ground involved in all the activities will deter criminals,” he stressed. Regarding funding of the project, he says a fund-raising day is being planned and the event will bring on board the government and corporates while the project members are working on the legal aspects, property rights and the feasibility of the plan. “The people of Windhoek must ultimately take ownership of the project,” he notes. Rendall stressed the rapid growth of Windhoek of four percent and ten percent in poorer communities, while more than 200 hectares of riverbeds are unused. “The City of Windhoek has promised to address its public transport system and we will address the poorly managed river courses.” He says if these areas are treated as urban parks, it will ensure community income, property and business income via restaurants, shops and craft stalls which will encourage more tourists to visit. “It will also increase city income via property and business development and the efficiency of the city will improve with people on foot or bicycles. It will clean up pollution and stop dumping and encourage local fauna and flora by promoting natural vegetation and retain water or create water features.” The project is divided into four segments: From Goreangab Dam to Wanaheda, Katutura and Khomasdal; from Khomasdal to the Simon de Witt Bridge (Look Out Hill); from there to Klein Windhoek and from Klein Windhoek to Avis Dam. Each of the four segments provide for a different landscape and opportunities which can accommodate a huge variety of recreational activities. Asked about the time-frame, Barnard says it could happen quickly as it involves no sophisticated machinery and it would create jobs for hundreds of people. “The only thing that will take time is the bureaucratic framework, the legal framework and the rules and regulations,” he said.
New Era Reporter
2014-10-28 08:16:40 4 years ago