Activist fights for the environment

Tokai activist Irene Petrony is always fighting for a cleaner environment.

When she moved to the area 26 years ago, there was a small shopping centre on her doorstep. In the meantime she has seen two up- grades which is now the Blue Route Mall.

She has also watched the degradation along the greenbelt which divides the back of her property from the mega mall. Not happy to sit back and watch, she gets her hands dirty by picking up litter and her busy fingers tap out emails to City officials, stores and Blue Route management, Redefine Properties. She has also written complaints in the book at the customer services area.

“I’ve begged and pleaded with three Checkers Hyper managers over the years, House and Home and the mall, and taken pictures of staff and asked for them to not dump their rubbish on the field and area where they sit during their breaks and asked for bigger bins. Some people bring cardboard to sit on and leave it behind when they go, often with it blowing into the river.

“It’s really terrible to see all the straws, cigarette stompies and other rubbish lying there,” said Ms Petrony, adding that she has emails dating back to 2012.

She said last week was the last straw. “I was picking up plastic packets out of my garden and pool – KFC paper bags, Nik-Naks packets, white hairnets and plastic aprons. They also leave chicken bones which is a health risk and dangerous for the dogs that get exercised there.”

Ms Petrony said a neighbour saw a rat in a rubbish bin.

She has suggested that more and bigger bins with lids be placed along the river, made from concrete to avoid theft.

Ms Petrony is also concerned about staff eating and smoking in the entrances of the underground parking, where the railings have been stolen and has asked for “no smoking signs” to be put up.

She would also like something to be done about the sprinkler system as it no longer works properly and on Sunday the sprinklers were going from early until very late, with water running into the road and gutters.

The river has been cleared of reeds but they are already growing back and the piles were left along the riverbank, the river full of litter. Ms Petrony wrote to the City about this on January 12.

Centre manager for Blue Route, Wendy Radford, said the greenbelt is a public open space that is popular with local residents, contract workers in the area and staff employed by the mall’s tenants. “To counter the problem of littering, we are in the process of erecting signage to request that people respect the space by using the bins provided. Although maintenance of the space is the responsibility of the City of Cape Town, we have made additional bins available and have asked our cleaning contractors to assist with maintaining the area.

“We have also requested those tenants, whose staff regularly use the area, to also enlist their cleaning services to clear away litter,” Ms Radford said.

She added redevelopment of the mall included a plan to establish a garden in the greenbelt, however, maintenance of the grass remains the responsibility of the City of Cape Town, but they have undertaken to nurture the garden for a period of a year, which includes watering the new plants.

Sprinklers connected to the mall’s borehole are manually turned on twice a week, as permitted under the guidelines of current water restrictions.

“Unfortunately, the underground sprinkler pipe re- cently developed a leak so we were forced to turn the sprinklers on, outside of the permitted times, to enable maintenance workers to find and repair the leak,” she said.

Regarding smoking legislation, she said it is strictly enforced and the relevant signage is in place to this effect. When instances of non-compliance are brought to their attention they take appropriate action.

The Bulletin contacted the local ward councillor, Penny East, on Friday and Monday February 19 and 22 to inquire about maintenance of the greenbelt and the Keysers River but she did not respond.