Cape Town - Woodstock residents have once again pleaded with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to provide sustainable solutions to its abandoned and unoccupied buildings.
This after one such building caught fire and it spread to a nearby recycling business, leaving 45 people jobless.
Prasa has failed to deal with and provide answers on the issue of its abandoned buildings, which have over the years become a safe haven for criminals in the area.
U Watch, a Neighbourhood Watch in Woodstock, said the latest fire at Tide Street is one of many incidents that have taken place in the Prasa building, and that for years they have been asking the state company to secure these buildings as they have frustrated the community for too long. However, while many promises were made, nothing had been done.
Rob Marshall from U Watch said that as a result of Prasa’s negligence, a nearby business was affected and 45 employees were left without jobs on Christmas Day.
“Prasa committed in March to secure the building. Nearly a year later, the situation remains unchanged. We are yet to see Prasa security step up and secure the building. Instead, valuable SAPS and law enforcement resources are eaten up as they deal with criminal activity attracted to the building,” said Marshall said.
He said residents are scared to use the municipal drop-off facility as they are mobbed by people from the building trying to take metal from them.
“The lack of security, not only at this building but throughout the land owned by Prasa, is a blight on Woodstock. We have seen an uptick in street robberies as well as cyclists being attacked by people staying on Prasa land. For the safety of our residents, we need action to be taken and not only empty promises.”
The business owner’s brother, Tougheed Tommy, said 45 people lost their income because Prasa was not securing their vacant buildings on Tide Street.
“The occupiers, as per normal, were burning their stolen copper cables, which the wind blew into our yard, igniting the plastic that we recycle, which in turn caused the factory and all our trucks to catch fire. I am very angry and emotional.”
City of Cape Town fire engines were dispatched to the scene, the fire was successfully extinguished, and no injuries were reported.