Safety on Table Mountain ‘still not priority’

Henry

Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs, recently admitted in response to a parliamentary question that although the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) generates millions of rand, there is no real priority to the park – or the many tourists who visit the scenic hiking trails. visit – not to protect.

JP Smith, Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety, says the TMNP includes more than 800 km of hiking trails and has major tourist attractions; it includes the cable car, Duiwelspiek, Leukopf and Seinheuwel.

“The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs (DFFE) has control over all matters related to the national park and is mandated by the South African National Parks (SANParks) to keep the park and its visitors safe.

“Following a surge in crime within the TMNP area, the City of Cape Town is increasing its support to SANParks and the police in their efforts to combat crime.

“However, the recent parliamentary response from the national government shows a lack of commitment to effectively manage the national park, similar to the problems seen at other tourist attractions such as the Castle of Good Hope,” says Smith.

He says that according to the written reply, Creecy conceded that TMNP employs only 70 rangers, who work on a limited schedule.

“Of the 168 hours in a week that must be covered by operational deployment, the rangers were deployed for 45 hours each. It is also understood that the majority of this deployment is focused on the south of the park – at the marine reserve – where illegal poaching is rampant.

“As a city, we did a lot to stimulate our local economy after the pandemic and a major focus of this for us was the tourism sector. TMNP has an annual income of around R300 million, with an expenditure of R97 million.

“This raises the question: If SANParks does not have enough resources and has too few rangers, where does all the money that is collected go? It presumably goes to subsidizing other parks in South Africa,” says Smith.

He believes that if even just half of the R200 million surplus generated each year by the government is allocated to finance additional resources, the City of Cape Town can finance an additional 400 law enforcement officers at the Table Mountain National Park.

“This is five times more than the current ranger deployment. This will significantly improve the safety of visitors to the park.”

Smith says that if a portion of the budget is used to fund additional technology, including cameras, drones and aerial support, they can achieve so much more and ensure that local and international visitors are kept safe and thus attract more tourists and more jobs. create.

“Not only can it be done – it must be done.

“We will continue to support the local police and SANParks rangers in the park as far as we can.

“Our Table Mountain National Park is more than just a business asset. It is part of our heritage and we must ensure that we protect it with more than just empty promises,” says Smith.