Street dwellers residing at the Jarman Hall, along with the ward councillor and community volunteers, recently took it upon themselves to clean up and establish a whole new garden in Neave Park, Schauderville.
The multimillion rand facility, which serves as both a playground and sports facility, has been in a state of utter disrepair since the start of the national lockdown period due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the country moved to lockdown level one and parks in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro were allowed to reopen to the public, these residents couldn’t bear to see children endangering themselves by playing in the park until it was clean, the grass cut and all waste removed.
Ward Councillor, Andy Jordan, said that when they started the clean-up project, the grass at the park was long and unkempt; there were weeds everywhere and broken glass bottles were strewn all over the place.
“The place was in a terrible condition but I am glad to see that the community has become involved, especially since a cleaner park means a safer environment for our children to play without the worries of stepping onto broken glass bottles,” Jordan said.
“You see these men working here? They are all street dwellers from the Jarman Hall, who offered to help of their own free will,” he added.
“At the end of the day, when the park is clean again, the community should remember to take ownership of the facility. If they take responsibility for it, the park can become a beautiful place again and remain that way.”
Jordan mentioned that no money had been allocated to his ward to do clean-ups or upgrades.
“At the beginning of the financial year, not a cent was budgeted for our ward. I was planning on getting new equipment for the playground area but that won’t be possible now.”
Community member and businessman, Peter van Wyngaardt, owner of Lira Grass-cutting and Landscaping, offered up his own time and free labour to help restore the park to its former glory.
“I worked really hard and planted the grass myself but I’m not doing it for any recognition. This is for my community,” he said.
Community volunteer, Edward Camealio, is disappointed that nothing has come of the Garden of Hope project he started inside the park before the lockdown period.
Camealio gathered learners from David Livingstone Secondary School across the road to establish a garden honouring the lives of young ones lost in the gang-infested northern areas of the metro.
“Things were going well until the lockdown but we won’t be deterred by this. We are going to redo the garden and it is going to be something that the community can be proud of,” he said.
Municipal spokesperson, Mamela Ndamase, said that cleaning services are usually provided by external service providers.
“As everyone is aware, grass-cutting was not an essential service during the COVID-19 declaration.
“While that was the case, the contracts we had with those service providers expired. The metro then renewed the contracts for a period of three months, starting in September,” she said.
“It is our responsibility to maintain the park but we had the above-mentioned challenges.
“Now that we have the contracts in place, we will maintain the park again,” she added.
“The contractor has been issued with the order. He is currently finishing work at KwaMagxaki and will move on to Neave Park thereafter.”
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