Cape vows to tackle N2 protest menace

Published Jul 30, 2013


Cape Town - The protection of the N2 highway, as a key economic lifeline, is under careful scrutiny by the provincial government and the Cape Town municipality.

In the light of the recent protests, some of which have spilled on to the N2, Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said the transport and law enforcement departments of the provincial government and the City of Cape Town had met the SA National Roads Agency to thrash out new ideas to keep the highway safe.

On Sunday, parts of the N2 had to be closed when “poo protesters” ran amok, hurling human waste at passing cars and endangering lives as motorists were forced to take evasive action.

“It’s a very deeply concerning issue,” Carlisle said. “There’s the safety of drivers and our economy is dependent on our transport corridors - without them we’re in trouble.

“They are essential to our economy, particularly given the decline of rail freight. They are thus a perfect target for demonstrators/protesters/political opportunists.”

The repeated closure of key transport corridors constituted an own goal for an already ailing economy.

“If our freeways are going to become a battle scene, then this very painful breakdown of law and order could have frightening consequences.”

Carlisle agreed that laws were already in place banning pedestrians from national roads, and authorities were doing their utmost.

“The city and province have done as much as they can. Hot spots are under 24-hour surveillance and are patrolled by metro police and provincial traffic.

“Cleaning service providers are on 24/7 standby.

“However, we don’t have heavily armed personnel to deal with certain situations. If there is a reasonably sized crowd there’s a limit to what we can do - it becomes the police’s job. Only the police have the legal authority, the strength and the resources to deal with the problem.”

New measures were the testing of an “indestructible” new fence, which could line the freeway in future, as well as recently installed cameras with night-vision to monitor the freeway.

And a strong presence of metro police allowed a speedy reaction to protests - although with limited resources which only the police had.

Cape Argus

* If you use Gmail to read IOL's newsletters, note that Google is rolling out a new tabbed inbox that filters your mail into 5 separate tabs - Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums. IOL emails will probably be sent to the “Promotions” tab instead of the “Primary” tab. If you don't want it that way, drag the newsletter from the Promotions tab to the Primary tab. An alert will pop up. Click “yes” and your newsletters will continue to go to your Primary inbox.

Related Topics: