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July 18, 2014

Pioneering as community service: permanent bridge by 1st Blairgowrie

Today is Nelson Mandela's birthday. Over the last few years, South Africans have been encouraged to spend 67 minutes of the day serving the community- signifying the 67 years Mandela gave in service to the country. This post looks at a permanent pioneering project that serves the community.



I was running through Delta Park, a large municipal park near my office, a few weeks ago when I noticed a Scouts South Africa notice pinned to the foundations of a bridge.

1st Blairgowrie Scout Group are responsible for this project, which is being led by James, a Springbok Scout candidate. The bridge is being built to offer an additional crossing point for the stream that flows in this part of the park, making it safer for the cyclists and pedestrians using the extensive trail network: the park is very well used, especially on a Saturday morning. Work has progressed in the last few weeks, and as you can see, only the decking and access ramps remain to be completed.

A few things are noteworthy:
  • the materials for the project are being funded by donations from the local community, who are active in assisting with improvements to this park.
  • the poles being used are stripped and treated gum poles, from local eucalyptus plantations. These are the cheapest and most widely available pioneering poles in South Africa.
  • bolts have been used instead of rope to make this structure more permanent. Is it still pioneering? I think so.
  • A final piece of trivia that links this bridge to Baden-Powell's friend, Rudyard Kipling, who wrote the Jungle Book: the stream it crosses is a tributary of the 'great grey-green greasy Limpopo' from the Just So stories.

UPDATE: Further down the same river, 1st Bryanston Scouts have just opened a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists- photos courtesy Johannesburg Parks.
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