SANParks highlights TMNP challenges

SANParks held a three-day information sharing session during which they spoke about their plans and challenges

Crime, conflicting user groups, non-compliance of rules and land issues are among the challenges faced by the SANParks in the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP).

This was heard at the three-day information sharing session held by SANParks last Tuesday to Thursday.

Among the issues discussed were the challenges faced by TMNP, maintenance of trails and the safety and security plans and implementation.

This comes after some Table Mountain users raised concerns about ongoing safety issues on Table Mountain and what they called the neglect of the park.

On issues affecting Lions’s Head and Signal Hill, area manager in the Northern Section of Table Mountain, Wana Bacela, said the recreational users in both areas had increased. He said because of the lockdown and the closure of certain activities, more users come to the mountain for leisure.

“We have seen an increase of worshippers who come up the mountain and do their activities, we have paragliders, hikers and other conflicting user groups who are constantly complaining about each other,” he said.

“We want people to come to visit the mountain and we always tell them that everyone has a right to come to the mountain. We also need people to explore other parts in the park because the numbers of people visiting this section have increased rapidly,” he said.

On the maintenance of trails, Mr Bacela said the people who were not happy with how they maintain the trails, needed to remember that the park was a mountainous area and they had a standard operating procedure on how they maintained the trails.

“We’re comfortable in the manner in which we do maintenance. Obviously, some people would want the trails to be free of rocks and stones and that is something we cannot do because we’re in a mountainous area,” he said.

He said they had a budget of R3 million for the northern section, which had been increased by 1.97% by the presidential stimulus fund and they were in the process of maintaining trails that had not been maintained in the past.

In a statement released to the media, chairman of the Friends of Table Mountain, Andy Davies, said there was no doubt that SANParks had done some good work in the TMNP.

In particular, he highlighted the progress made with path clearing on Devils Peak, Constantia Nek and Smuts Track.

“We think that we can take some of the credit for this and there has been some great work done by volunteer groups, but there remains much to be done after years of neglect,” he said.

He said crime would always be a problem in TMNP and that they would continue lobbying for safety to be improved in the park.

“Our passion and therefore priority is the protection and preservation of Table Mountain National Park for the benefit of all users and future generations.

“We, therefore, encourage all users to protect that environment by respecting the TMNP rules and to take an extra step by removing any litter off the mountain. Respect other users and remember it is a natural environment where people come to find peace and tranquillity,” he said.