Is Durban Ready for Cop17?


With COP 17 at our door step one cannot help but wonder if the coastal city of Durban is ready for a wave as huge as this.

Regarded as the largest conference in the world, COP 17 will hit our shores in November and December. 20 000 high delegates and 30 000 visitors are expected to make their way to the spectacle. It with considering however if the city has the necessary resources required to make the stay of presidents, environmentalists, reporters and the ordinary men in love with the environment as comfortable as possible.

Accommodation

All eyes will be feasted on Durban’s hospitality industry as it not only has to provide quality services but also contribute towards decreasing its carbon footprint.

Only the best of cutlery, linen and service will be required for presidents and other important people.

The eThekwini Municipality has launched an accommodation initiative called the Responsible Accommodation Campaign. This project aims to teach people in the hospitality sector about the kind of service expected from them and also about ways of ensuring that they operate in an environmentally friendly way. This campaign is primarily aimed at Hotels and bed and breakfast establishments and it is free of charge.

Venues

The conference will be held at the International convention Centre (ICC) and the Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC).

The site adjacent to the ICC and DEC will also be one of the key locations for the COP 17 event. Other sites that might be used for the event includes the Hilton hotel, Walnut Road, the pavilion site and the mustering fields.

If any other venues are required the City Hall, Moses Mabhida Stadium and the Botanic Gardens conference centre will be used to house sessions, plenary meetings and other talks.

Transport

The city will provide all delegates with transport services for the duration of the event. This service will include transport from the airport to Umhlanga and a shuttle from Umhlanga and the Beachfront Hotels to the ICC.

The city is also looking into the use of bicycles for conference delegates to move faster around the city and the ICC. This method will also mean cutting down on carbon emissions into the environment. Approximately 200 bicycles have been purchased by the municipality for this event.

Delegates can also make use of the existing People Mover Buses. The buses will have its Central Business District (CBD) route altered in order to be utilized by the delegates. The buses will be available only up until 11pm and after that delegates will have to make use of meter taxi services.

These accredited meter taxi will be parked on exists of the main venues and for a minimal fee from the delegates themselves it will return them to their hotels.

Parking areas will be established for delegates who will use their own transport. A shuttle will transport the delegates from these drive in sites and to the main venues and then back again to the sites.

The pedestrian route which was originally made for the world cup will also be put to use. These colour coded lines on maps will ensure that delegates easily find their way around the city.

Safety and security

The Metro Police will be used in conjunction with other security companies to ensure safety and security for the delegates and visitors at all times.

The Metro Police will specifically mange traffic and road safety around the venues used for the event. The South African Defence Force (SANDF) and the Fire, Health and department service will also be on standby in case of any emergencies that might arise.

Speaking to reporters at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC after a meeting with City officials regarding the state of readiness for the conference, the international relations minister, Nkoana-Mashabane said, “We are working closely with Durban and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to ensure that we host an international event which meets UN requirements.”

With the constant assurance of the minister one can say that Durban is ready to showcase itself to the world. Considering that the city already has experience from the recent world cup, the municipality is confident that the city will host an event that is up to world standards and will serve its purpose.

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