On Sunday 25 February, between 9am and 2pm, 3km of the M4 (Main, Victoria and Sir Lowry Roads) through Observatory, Salt River, Woodstock and District Six will become a car-free corridor for residents and visitors to enjoy as shared public space. The theme for the day is “Coming together to create solidarity around the water crisis”. It will be an opportunity for citizens to engage in constructive conversation and action about how we can all work together to reduce our water consumption. This will be in the form of playful activities, creative showcases and simple discussions.
Among other water-related activities, WWF South Africa will host a “Water Wise Hub”, the Cape Town Science Centre will host a “Hack the Water Crisis” event, ActionArte Foundation SA will be putting on a circus/theatre performance around the theme of water, and Miss Earth South Africa and Explore4Knowledge will co-host the “WATER Cape Town” awareness campaign. The City of Cape Town will also have water-saving information available at the Open Streets information booth for everyone taking part.
This means some restrictions will be in place for motorised vehicles, including public transport. Between Russell Street and Salt River Road there will be no vehicular access, and between Salt River Road and Groote Schuur Drive, the inbound lanes will be closed with the outbound lanes accommodating contraflow motorised traffic in both directions. There will be full access to Groote Schuur Hospital.
Public transport operators have been consulted and routes have been amended. Users are encouraged to take note of the diversions so they can plan accordingly. For those who have time on their commutes, the invitation is to take part in Open Streets. It is free and everyone is welcome.
Says Anwar Ally, Operations Manager for Golden Arrow Bus Services (GABS): “We will endeavour to communicate with our passengers before Open Streets to minimise any inconvenience, and will continue to engage with the organisers to amplify the message. We support the concept and believe it is a positive contribution to our communities. If we can shift people from private vehicles to public and non-motorised transport modes, Cape Town will have a much better transport system.”
Minibus taxis will make use of alternative routes for the duration of Open Streets.
MyCiTi route 102 will run as normal, with marshals at the intersection of Roodebloem and Victoria roads giving special access to the buses.
Activities on the day
Open Streets is citizen-driven and for this reason, all activities are organised by volunteers and they are all free to the public. From live graffiti to a reading corner for children, the street will become a playground for people of all ages.
Says Maria Mvungi from Sun-kissed Salsa: “Our initiative was born at Open Streets in Obs back in 2013, and we are always thrilled to invite the public to dance on the street. Salsa is the type of dance that bridges cultures and ages, and we are excited to be part of this citizen-driven initiative.”
Siyabonga Swelindawo from Zip-Zap Circus says: “We are thrilled to be able to join as active neighbours of Salt River and bring some of the circus magic from Zip-Zap Circus onto the street. Come and check out the juggling acrobatics and more at Open Streets”.
But it’s not all fun and games! Open Streets is also for community expression.
“Open Streets is a great way to engage each other about important issues in Woodstock and Salt River. We will be holding an advice assembly on the street where tenants and occupiers facing eviction can drop in and get support and solidarity. There will also be some fun activities to get to know your rights,” says Maxine Bezuidenhout from Reclaim the City.
The Woodstock Residents’ Association and Observatory Civic Association will have a presence too. Says Laura Myers:“Bringing residents of Woodstock together in a space that is welcoming and inclusive is a rare opportunity and we are excited to use Open Streets as a platform to engage with existing and new members of the Woodstock Residents Association.”
Says Tauriq Jenkins from the Observatory Civic Association: “We have been working to galvanise support among residents in Observatory to tackle the water crisis by strengthening our neighbourhood and will bring artistic presentations by Observatory-based artists on the water crisis as a contribution to Open Streets.”
Finally, Voice of the Cape will be broadcasting live from the day.
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