River walks between dams on cards

22 Oct 2014 15:50pm
WINDHOEK, 22 OCT (NAMPA) – A 20-kilometre river walk starting from Goreangab dam up to Avis dam in the capital is on the cards, just waiting for municipal approval.
The objective of the N.dollars 150 million community project is to create an attractive, vibrant, better-connected and accessible walkway for pedestrians with improved public spaces for locals and visitors, local architect Leon Barnard from Barnard Mutura Architects and Alastair Rendall from ARG Designs in Cape Town, South Africa (SA) said.
They were speaking during a public lecture under the theme ‘Revitalising Windhoek’s rivers for economic growth and social cohesion’ here on Tuesday.
Rendall played a part in the delivery of high-quality public sector projects, such as the bus transport system in Cape Town and Rustenberg in SA.
Barnard said the Riverwalk Initiative was established as a non-profit association incorporated under Section 21 on 22 March 2012.
“A draft urban design framework was done and presented to the City in October 2013.
A legal framework first needs to be in place”, he said.
The design proposal is as follows: the river walk will start from the Goreangab dam through to Khomasdal; Khomasdal through to Lookout Hill near the Simon de Witt bridge; Lookout Hill through Eros to Klein Windhoek; and from Klein Windhoek to the Avis dam. Various smaller rivers in-between will be used as routes to link up with the trail.
According to Rendall, there is too little recreational space in the capital, with a rapidly increasingly population.
About 200 hectares of river courses here are unused. These rivers are currently open spaces which serve as commuter routes, dumpsites or hiding spots for criminals.
He said the proposal is extended to form a riverine park connecting the Goreangab and Avis dams.
If the river courses were to be treated as urban parks, it would contribute to hosting major cultural events as well as smaller-scale community events.
The mix of business, leisure and cultural uses can thus attract people to it at all times.
Rendall felt that it also has huge social and economic spin-offs.
Rivers in the trail will still be open to flow during the rainy season to prevent floods in the city.
However, to make this project a reality, Rendall warned that the City might increase rates and taxes to sustain it.
A City budget for the river walk project might become a reality soon.
The park needs to be scrupulously maintained by staff members, who will include community members or home-owners located next to some of these riverbeds. Safety and security play an integral part of the project. The property value of houses located next to these river walks might also increase.
As for the way forward, Rendall said they would complete the urban design framework; aligning the current floodline study with the intent of the river walk; as well as integration with the sustainable urban transport master plan of the city.
At this stage, they are also consulting with potential partners for funding.
Various fundraising events will take place in due course.
“Urban parks in river walks are globally recognised as income-earners for communities. It is a win-win situation,” he enthused.