update


Vegetation hampers M4 security action plan

Thami Kunene of the Natural Resources Department rejected any notion of cutting or thinning vegetation along the M4 during a security meeting with various authorities at the Durban North Police Station.

TENSIONS mounted on last Thursday when a meeting was held to discuss the progress and future of the efforts to eliminate crime along the M4. Representatives from the eThekwini Municipality Parks Department’s Natural Resources Unit clashed with several other role players over the issues of both overgrown and alien vegetation.

Last month, authorities met to set an action plan in motion following a series of muggings and attacks reported along the bridge over the Umgeni River and the walkway towards Riverside Road. Since January, 11 incidents have been reported.

At last week’s meeting, Col Gopaul Naidoo, station commander of the Durban North SAPS, stated that the thick bushes posed the biggest hindrance to the action plan and suggested that the vegetation be thinned out along the roadway to increase visibility.  He also suggested that small walkways be cut into the bush to allow access into problem areas.

“It is not easy to access these sites as we are often forced to get onto our hands and knees and crawl though the bush to reach them. Increasing accessibility and visibility will improve security. The isolation of the areas is what drives the problem,” he said.

Brian Daish, chairman of the Greenwood Park sector 4 CPF, said: “There are massive vacuums that have been cut within the bushes. But they are difficult to reach. Access must be made for authorities,” he said.

However, Thami Kunene of the Natural Resources Unit rejected the proposal, saying it posed a great risk for the protected and indigenous plants in the area. “Already there are too many people cutting to secure a sea or river view. There is a fine line between destruction and conservation. Once cutting begins it will become difficult to ensure that it is done by people who have the knowledge regarding protected and indigenous plants,” he said.

A frustrated Peter Rose, chairman of uMhlanga Tourism, said the action plan gave the opportunity to not only eradicate alien invasive plants and improve security, but also to beautify the area. “In five years the Commonwealth Games will be upon us. We now have the opportunity to prepare,” he said.

To date, the SAPS and Greenwood Park CPF have held several sweeps and undercover operations in the area.

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  AUTHOR
Mariclair Smit
Journalist

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