ABOUT eight years ago Manie le Roux of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism decided that the wall built at Cape Cross to separate visitors and seals was not efficient and a proper walkway would be a better option.
It was also around that time that a tourist in a wheelchair wrote in the visitors' book that the seals were not accessible to people in wheelchairs due to the thick sand.
This was the final straw and Le Roux started looking at different options, finally settling on building a walkway from recycled plastic.
The contract for designing the walkway was awarded to Timber Plastics and by February 2009 the walkway was completed using 90 000 kg of recycled plastic.
A staggering 6 923 077 plastic bags, 1 636 364 two-litre milk bottles and 81 818 25-litre plastic drums were used.
Timber Plastics gave the ministry's staff on-site training and they built the whole walkway, reducing costs even more.
The walkway does not need any maintenance and the seals are now free to move in their natural environment without being blocked by a wall.
"This product is ideal for the extreme weather conditions we experience at Cape Cross. If it can survive here it can survive anywhere in the country," says Le Roux.
Depending on funding, a 100-metre extension of the walkway is planned.
"There are roughly 50 000 people visiting Cape Cross a year and with this walkway we now cater for all tourists, no more struggling through thick sand, and the seals lie in the shade under the walkway," Le Roux says.
Recycled plastic was also used in the construction of decks, benches and tables for a campsite at Cape Cross.
Timber Plastics has been in operation in Namibia since 2000 but the business only took off in 2003.
"It is a mindset change which must take place. A lot of people still want wood but they are now slowly changing to using recycled plastic items," says Andrew Dodds of JAC Agencies, which represents Timber Plastics.
They provide benches to the City of Windhoek which are used in public places such as shopping centres, the Zoo Park and Post Street Mall.
They also provided monkey-proof dustbins to the Etosha National Park and the Waterberg Plateau Park and have provided schools with benches and tables made from recycled plastic.