A blog covering life and happenings in Cape Town

Sunday, February 13, 2005

What's happening in Cape Town

Friday saw the opening of Parliament for the new year.

Cabinet ministers and their wives arrived in their fancy outfits for the opening and to listen to President Mbeki give his opening address.

It looks as if service to the public is going to be one of his main aims for the new year.

A number of Municipalities have over the past few weeks had visits from the president in an effort to improve their service.

Improved service is not all that we need here.

Cape Town is getting deeper and deeper into the drought with even stricter water restrictions being applied.

Everybody blames the lack of water on weather conditions and El Nino and while they may have some effect they are not the main cause.

The Cape Peninsula has always had enough water due to the fact that we have always had many trees.

They have all but disappeared as projects to rid the country of alien plants have included forests of pine trees on the slopes of Table Mountain and elsewhere.

Trees take in carbon dioxide at night and so lesson the effect of global warming.

Over the past 20 years or so we have had a major influx of people from the Eastern Cape.

Cape Town appears to be a beacon of hope for many as the people think that they will find jobs here.

There is however another reason for the influx.

Over the years the Cape was always a National Party stronghold and with the advent of the new government in 1994 it remained a stronghold.

In fact it was the only province in South Africa that was not controlled by the ANC.

The best way to win an election is to garner votes and what better way than to ship in your people to increase the odds.

I don't know what promises were made to the people but over the past 10 years, millions have moved to Cape Town.

Most of them are poor and have taken up residence in the Cape Flats.

This area was once farmland and was covered with trees and bush.

Today where once was bush are squatter camps and with the loss of the trees the area has turned into a desert.

Many trees that grew on the Cape Flats have been cut down and either used as firewood or to build shacks.

Most of the wetland areas that were there have long since disappeared and those which have happened to survive are so badly polluted that the water is unfit for human consumption.

The main problem however is that the government since taking control of the country have not sought to ensure proper water supplies for Cape Town.

There is one project in the pipeline where a new dam will be built on the Berg River but by the time it is complete we will need more dams to ensure a steady supply of water for Cape Town.

A number of ideas and proposals have been put forward including desalination of sea water, piping water from the Orange river to Cape Town, and even using sea water in swimming pools.
Who knows if they can even be implemented.

In my opinion we need to reintroduce trees into Cape Town.

As many of them as soon as possible.

It will not only beautify the Cape but will cool it down making it more conducive to rain.

With rain the dams will fill up and we might be able to beat the water problems given time.

Geoff Fairman

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