Take a deep breath at these urban green spaces

The City of Windhoek maintains various green spaces itself, but also leases many of them. However, apart from covering maintenance costs, visitor safety is a major concern.

18 November 2020 | Local News

Windhoek • Steffi Balzar

Farm Windhoek on which IJG Trails is located, is one of several green spaces in Windhoek that the city leases to private entities. The area is situated on the south-eastern border of the city, which according to Wanda van der Merwe of IJG Trails, makes it ideal for enjoying nature on your own doorstep.
“However, this proximity comes with it a number of challenges,” she says, since the area is one of the main targets for poachers and criminals who either hide there or target people who use the area for recreational purposes.
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 maintenance costs.
In view of the steep increase in crime, several neighbourhood watches have joined forces to patrol the area.

To the east
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 the organisation, the administration and thus security measures do not fall under the City of Windhoek.
Greenspace chairperson Vera Freyer says there have been a few criminal incidents at the dam in recent years, which mostly occurred in the evenings when the guards posted at the entrance of the site had already knocked off for the day.
According to Freyer, they 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, during which a man was attacked and eventually killed by two men with pangas during an evening walk after the guards had already left. To ensure the safety of visitors, the organisation has now installed a gate at 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,” Freyer explains.

Maintenance
Speaking to this publication, Harold Akwenye from the department of corporate communications of the Windhoek municipality, said that the city operates numerous green spaces and that they are safe. These include, for example, playgrounds in Agostinho Neto Park near Ausspannplatz or Snyman Circle, as well as the parks at the southern entrance to the city.
“During the day, the sanitary facilities are cleaned and the infrastructure is maintained. Any irregularities are immediately reported to the police or the Parks Division, which calls on the police for immediate action,” Akwenye said.
In the western suburbs, UN Plaza and Goreangab Dam are the only green spaces for residents; the Brakwater area is considered a nature park because of its protected vegetation.
According to Akwenye, the only security restrictions occur after hours at certain playgrounds in the residential areas of Eros, Klein Windhoek, Suiderhof and Pioneerspark, which are mainly occupied by homeless people seeking shelter there. “However, the police carry out random inspections and evacuate these people,” he said.
“Council plans to create more green spaces, but the water network is currently being re-examined,” Akwenye said about city’s future plans.
The Parks Division is already beautifying the entrances to the city and plans to develop certain playgrounds in the east of Windhoek into family parks with Wi-Fi 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 have been allocated for this upgrade,” Akwenye concluded.