The City of Cape Town has decided to extend a contract with the Central City Improvement District (CCID) to carry out the St George’s Mall and Greenmarket Square safety programme, following a successful project, piloted last year.
The project was put in place to improve public space management at these two spots and it is envisaged that the programme will eventually guide best-practice management and revitalisation of public spaces across the metropole.
In the past year, Greenmarket Square and St George’s Mall have become hot spots for begging and anti-social behaviour, as well as opportunistic and drug-related crimes.
According to the CCID CEO, Tasso Evangelinos, during the pilot project, which ended in June this year, the CCID aimed to stabilise the existing environment in terms of public safety and urban management.
Mr Evangelinos said during the next six-month period, the CCID and the City will continue to provide the same security and cleaning resources.
The deployment of 13 new CCID public safety officers to concentrate on preventative measures and incident management;
The deployment two City Law Enforcement officers from Monday to Friday, to deal with by-law infringements, resulting in well over R1.6 million worth of fines being issued in these two spaces alone; and
New teams of cleaning and maintenance staff with more than 3 600 shifts being created during the pilot project.
The project is funded by the City of Cape Town, and, according to Mr Evangelinos, the City has approved funding from December until June next year.
The City’s director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, said if the project progresses well, it will be rolled out to other public spaces around the city. “These areas are important public spaces for residents and visitors and provide opportunities for trading and events. The City monitors progress and we are satisfied with improvements on the safety challenges and cleanliness of the space.
“The City provided funding for urban management services and to increase law enforcement visibility and services.”
The aim is to encourage visitors to support the Greenmarket Square and St George’s Mall informal trading markets, he said.
“The City of Cape Town has the responsibility to ensure that these public spaces are well managed and fully utilised by all Capetonians and visitors to the city.”
Mr Evangelinos said he looks forward to the programme also being used in other important public spaces in the CBD.
“It enables these spaces to be maximised to their full potential, creating not only important public amenities for both Capetonians and others to visit and enjoy, but also as important economic hubs for both the informal and formal sectors.”
The project also involves CBD-based organisation, Khulisa Solutions, which have partnered with the CCID to create work opportunities for street people.
Jesse Laitinen of Khulisa Solutions said they were happy to hear about the extension of the contract as it will give more people the opportunity to work.
She said they have a team from the programme who clean up Greenmarket Square from 8am until 11am, sweeping up leaves and emptying the bins.
They then return their goods, have lunch at the service dining room, and then sit in on a counselling session. “The project is working really well. All the stakeholders are happy, and the cleaners are forging good relationships with the traders and regulars on Greenmarket Square.”
Project supervisor Magadien Wentzel said at first, the traders and the City were sceptical about the plan, but now they miss the workers when they are not there. “They are doing good work on the square. We are proud of them, and they are proud of themselves. They are doing well, so much that another project is in the pipeline for Long Street.”
He said in conjunction with the CCID, they are looking to place another team of four on Long Street to prevent the bins being vandalised, or people scratching in the bins and leaving a mess. “The team will fetch the bins, guard them and then empty them onto the trucks,” said Mr Wentzel.
Captain Ezra October, spokesperson for Cape Town Central police station, said alongside all the other role players, police will also increase visibility in these areas.
According to the Cape Town Partnership’s website, Greenmarket Square was created in 1696 and is the second oldest public site in Cape Town after the Grand Parade. The Burgher Watch House was built on the Square in 1716, from where the Burgher Watch would patrol at night. In 1761, the Old Town House was built in its place and used as the meeting place of the fledgling municipal commission that was created to meet the demands of the free burghers for greater control of their municipality from the Dutch East India Company.
When Cape Town was granted its own municipal administration in 1840, the building became the first City Hall. The square itself was originally used as a slave market and as a market for fruit and vegetables. During the eighteenth century, it was the location for the well that was the town’s main water supply during summer months when streams from Table Mountain dried up.
The square’s fortunes have fluctuated over the years: In 1905 the City Hall was moved from Greenmarket Square to the Grand Parade and the building was converted into an art gallery. Many of the buildings that remain on the square are of historical relevance: the Methodist church was built in 1871 and a hotel occupies the premises of one of the city’s oldest townhouses.
The Protea Assurance Building and Market House are two of Cape Town’s finest examples of art deco architecture. After a period spent as a car park , the square has been returned to its original function as a market place. Today the square is a regular stop on the tourist itinerary, as the market sells tourist memorabilia from across Africa.