Green spaces in the city despite security risks

Green spaces in towns and cities should give citizens the opportunity to be active in the open air. The City of Windhoek maintains some green spaces itself, but also leases many of them. Apart from problems such as covering maintenance costs, the safety of visitors is a major concern.

19 November 2020 | Local News



Farm Windhoek, on which the IJG Trails are located, is one of several green spaces in the Windhoek area that the City leases. The area is situated on the south-eastern border of the suburbs of Windhoek, which according to Wanda van der Merwe of IJG Trails makes it ideal for enjoying nature on your own doorstep

“However, this close proximity comes with a number of challenges,” says Van der Merwe. “The area is one of the main targets of poachers and criminals who either hide there or target people who use the area for recreation,” she added.

According to Van der Merwe, all maintenance that is not groundwater-related is the responsibility of the tenant, as are the safety measures.

“Through entrance fees, sponsorship and membership fees, we finance security guards and cover the maintenance costs,” says Van der Merwe. In view of the sharp rise in crime, several neighbourhood watches have joined forces to form anti-poaching units patrolling the area.

Dogwalker's paradise

Another popular green space in the capital is the Avis Dam. This too is leased by the City and managed by the non-profit organisation Greenspace. According to Vera Freyer, Greenspace's chairman, there have been very few incidents at the dam in recent years - and if there were, they mostly occurred in the evenings, when the guards posted at the entrance were off duty.

According to Freyer, the guards are on site until 19:00 in summer and until around 18:00 in winter.

In mid-July there was a shocking assault at the dam, in which a man was murdered during an evening walk after the guards had left.

To ensure the safety of visitors, Greenspace has now installed a gate on the access road to the site (Avis Road). “This is to prevent visitors from being alone on the site in the later hours of the day and possibly being attacked and robbed. Greenspace regrets this restriction, but it is our duty to keep the dam area as safe as possible,” explains Freyer.

Municipal spaces

Harold Akwenye of the City of Windhoek told Namibian Sun's sister publication Allgemeine Zeitung that the City operates numerous green spaces and that they are safe.

These include, for example, playgrounds in Agostinho Neto Park near Ausspannplatz, as well as the parks at the southern entrance to the city.

“During the day, the sanitary facilities are cleaned and the infrastructure maintained. Any irregularities are immediately reported to the police or the Parks Division, which calls on the police for immediate action,” says Akwenye. In the western suburbs, the UN Plaza and Goreangab Dam are the only green spaces.

The Brakwater area north of the city is also considered to be a nature park because of its protected vegetation. According to the spokesperson, the only security restriction occurs after hours at certain playgrounds in the residential areas Eros, Klein Windhoek, Suiderhof, and Pionierspark, which attract homeless people seeking shelter there.

“However, the police carry out random inspections and evacuate these people,” Akwenye said.

“The city council plans to create more green spaces, but the water network is currently being re-examined,” Akwenye said with regard to the City's future plans.

The municipality's Parks Division is already beautifying the entrances to the city and plans to develop certain playgrounds in the eastern areas of Windhoek into family parks with wi-fi coverage and green spaces.

“We also carried out cost estimates for an overhaul of the Zoo Park and requested a budget for this, but no funds were allocated for this upgrade,” said Akwenye.

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