The Seychelles' capital Victoria has a new waterfront garden which will provide a place for live entertainment and a meeting place for locals and visitors.
Named 'La Passerelle,' the garden is an initiative of Mayor David Andre to liven up the capital of the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. It was officially opened on Saturday.
With gazebos, benches and picnic tables, a cafeteria, music and artisanal kiosks, the area which overlooks the sea provide a welcoming venue for both locals and visitors.
"This small but beautiful waterfront project fulfils a lot of the sustainable development objectives and will make a substantive contribution to improving the environment of Victoria often described as a charming creole capital," Andre said at the opening ceremony.
He added that 'La Passerelle' will add a lively and vibrant feel to Victoria.
"Musicians, visual artists, poets and dances can have an open air space to showcase their talents and provide us with healthy entertainment," said Andre.
The name 'La Passerelle' is a French word which means gangplank or platform used to board or leave a large ship. Andre said he was inspired to come up with the concept by his childhood in Victoria, his instinct as an artist and his participation in international mayors' forum on the development of sustainable green cities.
Apart from being a place where all segments of the population including visitors can mix and integrate, Andre said such places are also catalysts for economic activities and also a source of employment.
Already four of the five artisanal kiosks are being occupied by artisans who are selling various craftworks with a strong focus on local products.
'La Passerelle' waterfront garden also provides a cultural space with its music kiosk called 'Akoustik' Cafe, sponsored by businessman Vijay Patel at a cost of $26,000 (SCR 350,000).
The Mayor added that although Victoria has changed considerably over the years and continues to change, the challenge would be to not lose sight of what the capital represents.
"We should always make spaces for peaceful, tranquil oases in order to strengthen our emotional wellbeing and sense of belonging," added Andre.
The waterfront garden also has an educational mission to raise awareness on the need to protect the environment.
Andre said schoolchildren have used slippers/flip flops collected in the Clean Up campaign on Aldabra to create marine species which have been used to decorate the area.
Another facility is a cafeteria -- 'Waterfront Café' -- which will focus on serving local dishes.
Construction of the café was undertaken by private investors -- Jeremy and Jennifer Couch -- who are also leasing the place from the Mayor's office. The project cost $109,000 (SCR 1.5 million).
Speaking to SNA, Jennifer Couch said she was interested in the project as she felt that such facilities are missing in the island's capital.
"I came forward because I was interested in having a place which focuses on local dishes and great service for locals and foreigners alike," she told SNA.
Couch added that she has also partnered with the Seychelles Tourism Academy to employ two of their students.
"Sometimes it is hard for those students to find employment when they leave school. I have decided to take at least two onboard for now so that they can learn the ropes from our chef here," said Couch.
The Mayor praised the public-private partnership which he said has enabled the project to become a reality and called on other private companies to bring their support towards such project.
"My wish is that the waterfront garden contributes to a new way of looking at the quality of life of our citizens and that it will be a source of inspiration to many and be regarded as a model for the future developments of all seafront spaces in Victoria," added Andre.