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City plans to inject R18m into Braamfontein Spruit

Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo (JCP&Z), the custodian of the City of Johannesburg’s green interests, is planning to spend over R18-million in two phases over the next two years to enhance the offerings and user-experience of the Braamfontein Spruit.

Stretching from Witkoppen Road in the north to Melville Koppies and Alberts Farm in the south, Johannesburg’s 37km green belt is a haven for nature lovers, and energy and outdoor thrill seekers. The trails along the spruit have valuable tourism and economic potential.

The JPC&Z’s feasibility study and operational business plan for the Braamfontein Spruit Adventure Trail were revealed by General Manager of New Business Development Louise Gordon to members of the public at the Johannesburg Zoo last week.

“The Braamfontein Spruit and its trails are a fantastic way to spend the weekend with friends and family, whether you enjoy walking, running, cycling or mountain biking. By enhancing and formalising the Braamfontein Spruit Adventure Trail, this attraction will not only offer great experiences but also create tourism and business opportunities,” said Gordon.

She said the proposed interventions to further enhance the Braamfontein Spruit Adventure Trail included the rerouting of trails to avoid natural springs and boggy ground to reduce erosion, creation of increased bird-watching areas, upgrades of several bridges and structures, erection of signage to inform users of the trail difficulty and installation of barriers and chicanes to slow cyclists and mountain bikers down at bottleneck and problematic congested crossing areas.

Matthew Drew, an independent consultant from Next Step Consulting, said the tourism potential along the Braamfontein Spruit would stem from the natural environment and several heritage sites along the trail that “have been forgotten about over the years”.

“[Mahatma] Ghandi walked along these trails to get from one point to the other. There is such rich history along these trails that is begging to be revealed again,” said Drew.

He said the interventions and proposed ideas contained in the operational business plan followed the findings of two stakeholder surveys and a series of discussions. Drew said these had identified safety and security along the spruit, litter, cyclist and mountain biker behaviour, informal settlers and dogs off leashes as some of the major concerns.

“More than 180 000 people use the Braamfontein Spruit trails annually. By formalising and managing them they will not only offer an enhanced user-experience for all but they will also potentially create several business and employment opportunities,” said Drew.

He proposed that a club or a trust be created to manage the two-phase project. Phase one is estimated to require a developmental cost budget of R2.75-million and an operational cost budget of R5.7-million. Phase two is estimated to require a R2.93-million developmental cost budget and a R6.76-million operational cost budget.

“Once completed, costs will naturally decrease but the result will be the creation of more than 35 permanent jobs along the trails – from security and safety personnel to kiosk owners and managers,” said Drew.

Gordon said the feasibility study and operational business plan would be presented to council for consideration.
If approved and progress is achieved according to schedule, the project could be completed by the first quarter of 2019.