Ricochet News

Robben Island upgrades pay off

Feb 8, 2017
Robben Island upgrades pay off

Infrastructure upgrades and better management of maintenance by the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) meant that Robben Island could handle a record of 49 738 visitors over the December/January festive season – with an overwhelming number of positive reviews on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel reviews website.

“We are delighted with the improvements to the visitor experience that we have been able to introduce since taking over the management of facilities on the island in April 2005, says Liwalethu Mondi, Facilities manager – DPW Facilities at CDC.

The CDC was appointed by the Department of Public Works (DPW) after a growing chorus of complaints about the state of the basic infrastructure of the World Heritage Site.

“In addition to managing all the facilities on the island, the CDC is responsible for managing infrastructure projects funded by the Department of Art and Culture (DAC),” says Mondi.

Upgrades currently under way include the repair of a wall at the bluestone slate quarry where political prisoners were forced to dig out slate – a lesser-known mine to the limestone quarry which features prominently in the memoirs of former president Nelson Mandela and other struggle stalwarts.

The CDC is also managing the upgrading of power generators, a desalination plant, a floating jetty and an effluent plant.

“There is a constant drive to improve safety in the harbour. We see it as a responsibility to the thousands of visitors and the tourist industry in the city of Cape Town to ensure that the harbour is safe under all operating conditions.

Overall maintenance standards have been improved by the establishment of an office and fully stocked store on the island, with qualified technicians and contractors on site to attend to maintenance and repairs with the minimum delay.

“We also want to ensure the comfort and quality of experience of visitors while they are on the Island, and are very pleased that we went through the winter of 2016 without a single power disruption thanks to regular maintenance,” says Mondi.

Water supplies are assured through regular maintenance of the Island’s desalination plant and reverse osmosis filtration system.  Another important project has been the upgrading of the sewer system.

“There is always maintenance to be done and tourist attractions to be repaired or enhanced. The CDC has shown that it can plan, implement and manage the systems needed to ensure that a trip to the Island remains a must-do activity for all visitors to the Western Cape,” concludes Mondi. 

Image: WORLD HERITAGE SITE –the CDC has been appointed to manage facilities at the Robben Island with the CDC being responsible for infrastructure projects at the Island in the process preserving SA’s rich history.