JOHANNESBURG City Parks is helping to green Eastern Cape's Mthatha.

JOHANNESBURG City Parks is helping to green Eastern Cape's Mthatha.

Last week Minister of Environment Buyelwa Sonjica opened the city's R6million park at the launch of the cleaning and greening programme "Buyisela" - an eco-town project.

The makeover of Waterfall Park in Ngangelizwe township has transformed the formerly derelict area into an eco-friendly space with newly planted trees, smart paving, a playground, lighting and ablution facilities.

The construction of the eco-park, developed in partnership with Joburg City Parks (JCP), involved more than 100 residents and local contractors.

The project, modeled on the Diepkloof Xtreme Park in Soweto, is set to become the leading outdoor recreation hub in the area.

"Today we are launching Buyisela ... with the sole objective of giving our townships and villages a new beginning," Sonjica said.

"Buyisela means giving back or restoring, which in essence captures the thrust of cleaning and greening efforts which go beyond just lawns and trees - and also creates recreational spaces for our people to enjoy their neighbourhoods, while also clearing these open spaces which could have been a breeding ground for criminal activities."

An amount of R400million has been set aside for the Buyisela initiative which will be split equally among the proposed pilot sites, with R40million set aside for the cleaning and greening of Mthatha.

In addition the department has set aside an amount of R27million for the rehabilitation of a dump site and the creation of a new waste management site to serve the city's residents.

"The environment has no boundaries," said JCP managing director Luther Williamson.

"We have the necessary expertise and have gone through the learning (experience) of developing world-class parks in 24 hours.

"It is our moral responsibility to share best practice lessons with our counterparts in lesser resourced municipalities."

JCP has already spearheaded the development of three eco-parks in Johannesburg - the Diepkloof and Protea Glen parks in Soweto - as well as the Wilgeheuwel Park in Roodepoort.