Stadium builders plough on regardless

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By MATT MEDVED

Demolition and excavation efforts at the Green Point Stadium site continued “full throttle” over the Easter holiday weekend, despite the threat of legal action by the Cape Town Environmental Protection Association (CEPA).

Excavators were digging through the rubble of the old stadium and articulated dump trucks were hauling payloads of topsoil on the Green Point Common when the Cape Argus visited the site yesterday.

Although an application to work on Good Friday was turned down by the city out of respect for the religious holiday, work continued on Saturday and yesterday.

“Right now we are still chasing that October 2009 deadline,” said Pieter Cronje, spokesman for City 2010.

“It’s the early days of the process but we are moving full speed ahead.”

Technical project director David Hugo said he had applied for permission to work on Good Friday but the query was rejected by the city “because of the importance of the religious holiday”.

The primary focus of the current work is the excavation of the Metropolitan golf course, where the new 68 000-seat stadium will be built, as well as the diversion of bulk services to the new site. Such services include a storm drain and a larger water main for the common.

Turf from the golf course has also been removed and sold to a construction contractor.

Additionally, the partial demolition of the old Green Point stadium has started. While the contract for the complete demolition was still being finalised, a portion of the existing structure will be used as a construction yard with offices for sub-contractors and engineers on site.

“We are demolishing approximately three quarters of the stadium under an agreement with the Western Cape province,” Hugo said.

“We have commenced stripping off the roof sheeting and façade of the building.”

The next stage will be the casting of concrete for the stadium foundations. Hugo said that the city had also embarked on a public process to agree on spatial limits for the common as well as to establish an athletics facility there.

“At the moment, the full complement of workers is not on site,” Cronje said. “Once they start the construction proper, the numbers will increase.”

The construction workers work shifts from 6.30am until 5.30pm, six to seven days a week.

The work has progressed unfettered by the urgent application to the High Court that the CEPA submitted last week, to halt the building process and return the Common to its state prior to March 26, when the construction officially began.

The CEPA has asked the court to declare as unlawful the environmental record of decision (ROD) issued by the provincial Environmental Department in October, which grants approval for the stadium to be built on the Green Point Common, as well as the revised ROD by environmental MEC Tasneem Essop in January, when she dismissed appeals against the choice of site.

Robert MacDonald, spokesman for Cape Town mayor Helen Zille, said Zille would “vigorously defend the court action”.

Cronje said that the city’s lawyers were still studying the “very bulky” papers they had been served and that it was too early to tell what their course of action would be.

“One is never flippant about any legal challenge but we feel that we will oppose this action in court,” said Cronje.

“The construction must go on; it’s not just about the stadium, it’s also about all the relevant investments. We also believe that the timing of the action is unproductive because we have gone through the statutory processes over many months with public participation and appeal.

“The stadium is not a random development, but part of the development in the surrounding Waterfront and central business district and we believe it will provide a cash injection to give the Green Point Common a facelift as a new sports and recreation precinct.”

CEPA chairman Arthur Wienburg was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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~ by Matt Medved on April 10, 2007.

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