Cape Town - The Walmer Estate Residents Community Forum has blasted the city for a “no show” in its plan to curb the peak-hour traffic rat run through the area.
Last week the city announced that it would conduct a trial of restricting traffic through Walmer Estate, from Monday until April 25.
Mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron said the city would block off the main access road to the area between 4pm and 6pm. He said about 1500 vehicles entered Walmer Estate at the intersection of Keizersgracht and Chester road between 4pm and 6pm during the week, but that once the city put the brakes on the rat run, motorists would only be allowed to turn into Searle Street and into Chest Road and Hill Street.
As the city conducts the trial, and when it decides to formally implement the traffic restriction, motorists will not be allowed to enter Walmer Estate from Keizersgracht.
But to the disappointment of the residents of the area, the city did not start the testing on Monday as planned.
Forum chairman Moosa Sydow said after the great expectations residents had, the first day of the trial was a “damp squib”.
“We were promised, with some amount of public hype, that the nightmare of the peak-hour traffic rat race that we have had to endure for years will finally be tackled head-on with the full support of the city and brought to an end.”
He said when the “big moment” came just before 4pm on Monday, he went to check whether implementation was going ahead but saw no traffic officials.
“It was maddening and disappointing to see the same traffic rat runners we have been fighting to stop making our lives a misery, merrily going on their way,” Sydow said in a letter to the Cape Times.
Herron responded, saying the planning had been a long time in the making but that “unfortunately” the traffic department let officials down by arriving late and sending staff who were unprepared. He said the situation was now being dealt with internally.
Herron assured Sydow that an official from the roads department would ensure traffic staff arrived early and were prepared to start the trial phase on Tuesday.
Traffic officials were on the scene on Tuesday, but Herron said initially the plan was to allow some traffic through, but to warn people of the changes and that it would not be allowed in future.
“Part of the plan is education and not pure enforcement.”
“It is very premature to write off the effort as a failure so early in the project,” Herron said.
Sydow said on Tuesday he was pleased to see two traffic officers on the scene warning motorists.
“It’s tough because not everyone reads the papers, but it is looking much better. We hope the message will get through to people.”
The trial will continue from 4pm to 6pm for the rest of the week. Herron said the city would be “remiss to punish motorists who are unaware of the restrictions”.
“It is not these motorists who need to be punished to change their behaviour, it is those who persist even after a few days of warning.”