City denies decision to close scenic roads

ct closed done (20194239) (20201249) INLSA Tafelberg Road, from the Kloof Nek parking area, is one of the two roads being closed to motorists between 10pm and 5am in an attempt to boost security. Photo: Michael Walker

Caryn Dolley

THE city says it played no part in the decision to close a portion of the road below Table Mountain and another leading to Signal Hill to motorists at night in an attempt to prevent crime.

This after the city told the Cape Times on Tuesday it had ordered the road closures.

But yesterday Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, said the city closed only part of Tafelberg Road from a point after Devil’s Peak due to structural safety concerns.

Three days ago the Cape Times reported the closure of Tafelberg Road, from just above the Kloof Nek parking area, and Signal Hill Drive, from a point just after the main route leading up Lion’s Head.

Only accredited tour operators and people who had a night permit would be allowed to access the mountain in vehicles between 10pm and 5am.

On Tuesday Henry du Plessis, the city’s director of roads and stormwater, had told the Cape Times the city would close the roads at night “because of the safety issue”.

He had said the roads were municipal roads so SANParks could not close them.

But yesterday Herron sent out a media statement saying the city had only played a role in closing a portion of Tafelberg Road beyond Devil’s Peak “owing to structural safety concerns”. “I understand that the temporary closure of the remaining section of Tafelberg Road and Signal Hill Drive was instituted by SAPS (the police) in consultation with SANParks as a safety precaution,” said Herron.

“The city’s roads and stormwater department …was not involved in the decision.

“If the city had received an application for this temporary road closure, it would have been reviewed by the necessary departments before being subject to a public participation process. No such application has been received thus far,” Herron said.

Yesterday Du Plessis said he understood the police, in conjunction with SANParks, could order the temporary road closures for public safety reasons.

He referred further queries to Herron.

Tafelberg Road and Signal Hill drive had been closed to motorists at night before in an attempt to boost visitors’ safety.

In reaction to the recent closures, a number of mountain users said the measure would put visitors off going to see the mountain.

They said the closure was an ineffective crime-fighting strategy and a better measure would be having more rangers patrolling the area.

On Wednesday at 9pm two Independent Newspapers photographers tried to take photographs of Table Mountain from Signal Hill, but a ranger said he would fine them R500 if they proceeded as they needed a permit to take photographs for business purposes.

Yesterday SANParks regional spokeswoman Merle Collins said taking photographs for personal use or for newspapers was permitted.

The ranger had been incorrect.

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