Damaged beach road angers residents

The damaged Fisherman's Lane at Strandfontein Pavilion.

Angry Strandfontein residents and fishermen are demanding answers from the City of Cape Town regarding the damaged Fisherman’s Lane and poor conditions at its Blue Flag beach at Strandfontein Pavilion.

According to the City, plans are in the pipeline to fix the road and will be implemented over the course of the next three years.

There are three huge holes in the road, one of which is 30 metres long and 14 metres wide.

For about 100 metres, half of the road has been washed away.

Strandfontein resident Mario Oostendurp, who is from the Proudly Strandfontein civic organisation, said over the past few years there had been no plan to maintain and fix Fisherman’s Lane. The road runs from the main Pavilion buildings.

He stressed that the government needed to invest in and upgrade the road and the Pavilion facilities, which were built in 1981.

“Thousands of people use the beach during the festive season, young and old. Over the past few years, many calls have been made, including a proposal for the City’s Integrated Development Plan, by various organisations, forums and individuals regarding safety.

“We understand that the rise in ocean levels and climate conditions are to be considered, but planning must be done by competent engineers. Had this been a facility along the Atlantic Sea-board, it would not be left in these conditions,” he said.

Mr Oostendurp said Strandfontein Pavilion is a well-known Blue Flag beach, as it has one of the largest tidal swimming pools in southern Africa.

“We have a Blue Flag beach, however, there’s nothing to promote or attract visitors to the area by the City. There are upgrades planned for Maiden’s Cove and surrounds at an estimated R1.5 billion to attract a privileged few. At this beach we attract thousands of people each school holiday, but there is nothing but a general maintenance budget. This budget won’t even cover the damaged road.

“We call on the City to redirect planned spending at Maiden’s Cove and redevelop Strandfontein Pavilion. We call on fair distribution of res-ources and funding. The time has come that residents demand that the False Bay coastline be developed and upgraded,” he said.

Residents were so fed up with the conditions that they started a Facebook group called “Friends of Strandfontein Pavilion” two weeks ago.

It is a central point of communication after ongoing complaints regarding the poor status of the Pavilion.

Avid fisherman Keith Alfred Blake from Ottery said Fisherman’s Lane is a famous spot for locals to fish.

Mr Blake is upset and disappointed that the road has still not been repaired after so many years. Mr Blake has made contact with the City throughthe years regarding the matter, but received no concrete answers.

“If the roads would have fallen apart in Sea Point it would have been repaired because it would cause inconvenience for the locals, and not to forget our tourists, local and foreign. This unrepaired road has caused many sadness and inconvenience to our Cape Flats locals and I could see that some fishermen were going over the sand dunes to reach the broken road areas,” he said.

Mr Blake said the City should restore the road so that people can enjoy the Pavilion.

“The City has to restore the facility, and let us call it part of our local heritage so that we can enjoy the facility just as much as others in affluent parts enjoy theirs,” he said.

Nigel Savel, founder of the 9 Miles Project, uses the Pavilion five days a week, from Tuesday to Saturday.

The organisation runs a surf programme, literacy and academic support programmes, life skills and arts and crafts programmes in a facility at the Pavilion which the City has provided.

They have converted the space into a fun learning club house.

Mr Savel uses the tidal pool for water safety, ocean awareness training and fitness programmes. They use the grass areas for recreational sport activities such as cricket, soccer and golf.

Mr Savel said Fisherman’s Lane is unsafe and he keeps his pupils away from the broken road.

“The road looks like it could collapse even further at any moment, we personally don’t allow our students to venture that side of the Pavilion.

“We see fishermen using that part of the Pavilion daily, enjoying the recreational sport of fishing, they are quite diligent in their sport. Currently there is not much on offer at the lane for them, so facilities to aid them will be good,” he said.

Mr Savel said restoration and an upgrade plan should be implemented. “I think a fishing club or forum should be started, the facilities will not only help the fishermen but also beach-goers and the general public. A boardwalk along the stretch could also be implemented,” he said.

Errol Adams from the Youth Angling Academy said Fisherman’s Lane and the parking lot is dangerous to drive and walk on, and can collapse towards the beach.

“Danger is staring the public in the face. Sadly, you cannot showcase an event on the broken road side of the Pavilion – it’s too dangerous. The children who are part of the academy are my priority, and because of the current state, I won’t be able to take the children on that side of the beach,” he said.

Mr Adams said he was waiting for answers from the City of Cape Town. He said the road is falling apart daily and is becoming an eyesore to the public and a danger to the bathers, especially during the festive season.

“When are they going to fix the road and is there a plan for the Pavilion? All parties involved should be brought to the table to discuss the options and how to resolve the problem. Drastic action needs to be taken regarding the future maintainenance and upkeep of this pristine beach area where you can take your family and friends to.

“This beach and surrounding area could become another tourist attraction for overseas visitors and even local tourists, which can boost our economy and the Mother City will get another star added to its name,” he said.

Anda Ntsodo, the mayoral committee member for community services, said Fisherman’s Lane formed part of a highly dynamic coastline. He said the damage to Fisherman’s Lane was the result of wave action on a sandy shore undermining hard infrastructure that has a poor foundation.

Mr Ntsodo added that the natural wave action had caused holes below the sea wall and was a result the infill supporting the road had washed out, causing the tarred surface to collapse in places.

“Maintaining and repairing the road and trying to keep the seawall intact is not likely achievable as the sea wall is not founded on an appropriate foundation.

“The sport, recreation and amenities department has therefore proposed the removal of the road and rehabilitation of the area while still providing sufficient suitable access to the coastline with recreational opportunities,” he said.

Mr Ntsodo said an in-house landscape architect from the spatial planning and urban design department had been assigned to the project and a draft design for the rehabilitation of the area drawn up.

He said the draft design included the removal of the existing broken road as well as a much-improved recreational area with a boardwalk and viewing decks or piers jutting into the sea for fishing access.

The draft design has further been informed by Transport for Cape Town around specific aspects such as the length of the boardwalk and viewing decks or piers, the distance to set infrastructure back from oncoming wave action, and the optimum path for vehicular access into the area.

Mr Ntsodo said the City intends to put forward three proposed designs for public participation during the course of the current 2016/17 financial year.

“Based on the public participation, elements of the three designs will be costed in terms of both the initial capital layout and long-term maintenance requirements to inform the sport, recreation and amenities department to plan financially for project implementation.”

According to the City, In the interim, signage is in place to warn members of the public of the collapsing road.

“Adequate parking is available to the public at the Strandfontein Pavilion to cater for those accessing the beach and tidal pool for recreational activities,” he said.