Southern Strand Library, still in ruins

A year later no visible progress has been made in either rebuilding or demolishing the Southern Strand Library and the premises remain in a state of disrepair.

A year after being destroyed in a devastating fire last year on Saturday February 27, the Southern Strand Library remain in ashy ruins.

The library, located at 60 Lower Gordon’s Bay Road, Rusthof, Strand has been serving the Strand community for more than 40 years, but for the past year this has been a service the community has had to go without.

Stephanie Jansen, from Beverly Hills informal area in Strand, is the founder of The Beverly Hills Community Civic and Housing Forum and has for years been running an after-school homework programme for children in her community. She is disappointed at the lack of progress being in the llibrary’s restoration.

Ms Jansen says with schools fully operational this is the time of the year when children are given school projects and assignments, which can be difficult to complete without a library close-by within walking distance.

The need for their old library back, remains an urgent one, she says, as most of the families can’t afford the taxi-fares to go to other libraries in the vicinity, which are not within walking-distance. “It’s a huge loss to us, especially for our matric pupils and the younger ones are struggling with their reading. There used to be different programmes presented for the children at the library hall, but now there is nothing.”

Their message and pleas to the City she says is simple, “We want to know what is the way forward? It is unacceptable.”

Apart from having to endure no access to books and a quiet and safe facility to study, library patrons and the community also no longer have use of the SmartCape internet services the library provided in the past and in the past, they could log their service complaints calls or requests from the City at the library.

One such resident who used the library to log service request calls is Octavia Syster from Webb Street opposite the library. “We now have huge problems because the library used to be our call centre where we reported our blocked drains and service delivery problems.”

“They are taking too long to complete the library and it has a huge effect on the children’s schoolwork and pensioners who used the library for them it’s too far to go to Strand library.”

The City of Cape Town, however, remain adamant about their commitment to rebuild this local library.

In response to Bolander’s enquiry about the status of the progress on the rebuilding of the library, Councillor Patricia van der Ross, mayoral committee member for community services and health, says plans are underway to demolish the building.

“The structural report was submitted, and it recommended that the building be demolished. The time frame for the demolition is unknown.” Security guards have been deployed at the site 24/7.

The City advised residents to use neighbouring libraries of Strand, Lwandle and Gordon’s Bay. In response to whether the cause of the fire has been determined, the City replied arson was suspected at the time. Bolander asked Warrant Officer, Nico Beukes, spokesperson of the Strand Police on the status of the investigation but did not yet receive a response.

The former Strand Southern Library burnt down at the start of last year and has since not been rebuilt.