PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - The R1.2-million investment in the Plett Rage student festival transport system is paying off, with security role players dubbing it one of the most successful events in its two-decade history so far.
Plettenberg Bay has become all the rage among thousands of young South Africans as the town hosts the 20th Plett Rage student festival.
Between 5 000 and 6 000 school leavers were expected to descend on Plett to celebrate their new-found freedom during the festival which started on 29 November and runs until 6 December.
Plett Rage is South Africa's oldest student festival and provides the opportunity for students to not only let their hair down but also boosts the local economy with about R50-million each year.
For the third year, the festival is being hosted at the outdoor festival grounds dubbed CoCo Valley just outside the town. This is where students gather for evening entertainment while daytime activities take place at was is being called Bikini Beach just off the town's Central Beach.
'Biggest beach bar'
Festival founder Ronen Klugman said revellers were in for a treat as they had paid special attention to the stage and venue design this year.
One of the newest features is a swimming pool built at Bikini Beach.
This venue also has, as far as is known, the biggest beach bar in South Africa.
"We had about 20 top set-builders working on stages and other features," Klugman said.
These stages were set to see some of the biggest names in the SA music industry including Das Kapital, PH Fat, Nasty C, Desmond and the Tutus, Shortstraw, Spoegwolf, Francois van Coke, The Kiffness, Jeremy Loops, Die Heuwels Fantasties, Goodluck and Jack Parow. A variety of top DJs have also ensured the party does not stop.
Klugman said they also spent countless hours working with various role players to ensure the safety of the young festinos.
"Although it is a commercial event, it has been overwhelming how many people are willing to step in and volunteer their time and effort to ensure the safety of the students." Among these volunteers are the Shepherds who assist youngsters beyond the festival grounds including ensuring that they get home in one piece. Klugman said these volunteers did about 6 000 "lifts" last year.
One of the safety features of the festival is its massive transport system. "This is our biggest investment. We've spent R1.2-million on ensuring a good transport system. We however do it with a smile as we want to make the event as safe as possible."
Klugman said to avoid drinking and driving, transport is provided between central pick-up and drop-off points and the festival grounds for the evening entertainment.
No private vehicles are allowed at the venue. This service is free.
During the day there are shuttles, at specified rates, for students to get around.
Plettenberg Bay Crime Prevention Association (PBCPA) special operations head Marius Venter said this year's festival could be described as the best one yet and that everything has been running smoothly. "There have been no major incidents so far and the transport system is running very smoothly. Each taxi is kitted out with a system which can show us if it speeds. The driver will then immediately be addressed. They also have a system in place through which the students getting on the taxis to the festival grounds are counted and then ensure that each of them gets home safely," Venter said.
Another feature of the festival is its cashless nature. Each student receives an armband on which they can load money and pay for food, drinks and other items.
"Attached to each armband is the student's profile. Should a student get into difficulty, this band can be scanned which will bring up the youngster's information."
Keeping thousands of students safe over the festival period is a mammoth task and therefore a detailed safety plan has been put in place which involves the cooperation between police, local law enforcement, local and provincial traffic departments, private security companies, PBCPA, local neighbourhood watch groups and volunteers.
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