Tree trimming raises ire

A pruning job on a majestic blue gum in Gordon Road in February, raised the ire of Somerset West resident Margie Frey, who copied Bolander in an email to Ward 84 councillor Stuart Pringle, expressing her distress.

“Could you please investigate who gave the order for this significant tree to be chainsawed today?  Last year we were reassured that it would not be harmed during the building process on Hathersage,” Ms Frey said.

She added that there was no supervision for the two-man team, they were not wearing saftey gear, and they had no permit..

Bolander approached the City of Cape Town for comment, and received the following response from mayoral committee member for Area East, Anda Ntsodo:

“The City’s Parks Department is aware of the tree. It has not been cut down. It was being pruned as a precautionary measure as the branches were hanging over the road, posing a danger to cars and pedestrians. This is part of our proactive maintenance in the area. Officials have been in touch with the resident to explain.”

There was no comment about the lack of safety clothing and equipment in use by the pruning team, until Bolander submitted a follow-up enquiry, specifically asking for comment about the occupational safety breach.

To this, Mr Ntsodo responded: “Officials will meet with the contractor next week, as the specifications of the tender do not allow vendors to operate without proper safety equipment.

“The contractor will be dealt with according to the penalties within the City’s supply chain management process.

“We appreciate residents pointing out any contraventions of safety to the local recreation and parks offices, who will take the necessary steps to address the issues,” he said.

But the quality of the pruning job is also a matter of concern, according to Somerset West arborist, Fred Lewis.

“A stub has been pruned with no lateral branches growing out of it, so one of two things can happen: it will either die, but more likely, it will sprout new shoots that will only be weakly attached to bark. These shoots will pose a major threat when they grow large, and we have high winds, positioned as it is, over a busy road.

“That stem should instead have been pruned right down to ground level,” he said.