Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cleaning the Swartberg. Should we take charge?

- Alf Joubert -

On one of those truly splendid days we were travelling back to Prince Albert via the Swartberg Pass. It was the 12th of January 2009. On reaching The Top we discovered that over the festive season many people had visited the lookout point.

True to a good upbringing they had “tried” to place their litter in the bin provided but alas could not – it was filled to the brim. The next best thing of course would be to take your litter away with you. But suspecting that the drum would be cleared “soon”, more rubbish was either forced in deeper in or just left next to the drum.

Needless to say the “soon” did not happen and the wind carried much of the rubbish into the surrounding bushes. This sad tale repeated itself at every other viewpoint down the mountain. At Eerstewater the situation was really very bad. In fact, shocking.

Although my family and I cleared this spot (gathering five black bags of rubbish and broken glass) before we could enjoy a picnic there on the 30th of December, the latest mess here was unbelievable.

Realizing that two weeks have passed and no official finger had been lifted to empty any bin on the mountain, I took a snap decision to do something about the matter.
On the 13th of January I organized a private cleanup. With the help of Jan September we started from The Top and four hours of labour under a blistering sun resulted in eight bags of litter. And we had not even touched Eerstewater!

We called it a day and returned to Eerstewater three days later assisted by Abraham Mars. Three hours and ten bags of rubbish and broken glass later we felt reasonably pleased with a task well done, by no means perfect as there is still an infinite amount of broken bottle pieces to be picked up.

During the two days I met quite a few tourists as far afield as Texas in the USA, who were blown away by our spectacular mountain. Hopefully they will now leave the country with a good and “cleaner” picture of Prince Albert and encourage their friends to visit us.

The mountain is our lifeline and if this tourist umbilical cord should be cut because the people responsible are not doing their part to clean up “our” mountain, private people will have to step in to protect Prince Albert’s precious heritage site.

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