Cape Town - Heathfield residents have started a petition objecting to the lack of safety surrounding Heathfield Station, saying that the unfenced railway line has been a safety hazard for those living near the railway tracks.
Residents and children, who live near the railway tracks, according to the petition, frequently walk onto the tracks, putting their lives in danger, while criminals utilise the unfenced railway line as an easy escape route, escalating the prevalence of crime in the neighbourhood.
Chairman of the Princessvlei civic association Enver Maneveld said that this issue has been brought to light several times, yet nothing is being done.
“For years, Prasa has promised us that they would step in, yet we continue to find ourselves in the same situation as before. We constantly get to see people getting injured or killed on these railway tracks. We’ve been fighting for proper fencing, not flimsy fencing that has been standing here for years. We’ve asked for proper fencing that will prevent anyone from crossing, yet everything just falls on deaf ears. We feel pushed to the side and that we are not being taken seriously, and that is causing the current turmoil among residents,” said Maneveld.
Steenberg CPF chairperson Gavin Walbrugh said that the issue with the railway line, having no fencing around, it is nothing new.
“The issue with the railway tracks not having proper fencing around is not only a safety hazard, but also a pathway for criminals. People are committing crimes and then they run across the tracks, taking them into another police jurisdiction. We are under the Steenberg jurisdiction, and the other side falls under Deep River.
“The unfenced railway tracks also become a bigger concern, as children that play in the street easily wander off into the railway, causing serious accidents. There's been a couple of accidents in that section, close to the crossing, where people have been knocked over by trains. Just two days ago, there was such an incident,” said Walbrugh.
Metrorail spokesperson Nana Zenani said that while Metrorail acknowledges the community's concerns, a partnership with residents and neighbourhood watch is needed, in order to fight crime and vandalism in the area.
“We have lines, with huge passenger demands, that are currently not running as a result of theft and vandalism. The decline, and ultimate closure, of the line started with an unfortunate fatality of one of our staff members, in the course of carrying out his duties. Currently, a lot of planning is going into fixing those lines in order to run services again.
“Metrorail cannot stand alone in this crisis, but needs innovative solutions and a larger dialogue, about why the rail network is being destroyed at such an alarming rate. Nevertheless, a plan is definitely being put in place and Metrorail is seeing to it that these issues raised are addressed,” said Zenani.