Fisherman’s lane upgrade under way

Fisherman André Flores shares his grievances with the Plainsman on Friday August 27. In the background the broken road surface can be clearly seen.

The multi-million rand upgrade of coastal infrastructure at Fisherman’s Lane at Strandfontein Pavilion is on track, despite Covid-19 budget cuts.

Fisherman’s Lane, better known as the “broken road”, has been in a sorry state for some time. The road has collapsed and fisherfolk and beachgoers have to use alternative roads and pathways to access the lane.

Sub-council 23 chairman Elton Jansen said the Fisherman’s Lane project is still on the cards and may take up to 12 months to complete. The estimated total cost is R29 million with the construction costs estimated at R25 million.

The tender process is currently under way – this is done within the prescribed time frames and the anticipated bid specification meeting takes place today, Wednesday September 1. It is anticipated for the tender to be awarded by July 2022 after which construction will commence, said Mr Jansen.

“As the Ward 43 councillor, I’ve been driving the Fisherman’s Lane upgrade since I became a councillor and I’m very satisfied that this project is on the budget amid various budget cuts during Covid-19,” said Mr Jansen.

The proposed upgrade of the existing infrastructure is to remove extensive damage on the Fisherman’s Lane seawall, improve parking areas and the constructing of a new timber walkway structure and the upgrade of a recreational picnic area, said Gregg Oelofse, City of Cape Town manager for coastal management, integrated urban management, who presented at the Sub-council 23 meeting on Friday July 23.

The existing coastal retaining wall structure supporting the link road between the eastern and western parking area is severely damaged. A secondary link road to the western parking area from the eastern parking area is also in a bad state and will be rehabilitated. This will be the only link road to the western parking area, Mr Oelofse said.

The existing recreational facilities will be upgraded, including braai facilities, soft landscaping, irrigation (water) system, timber walkway structure, and play equipment. A beach access stairway will be included in the planning and lighting will be installed, he said.

This upgrade is to regenerate the current degraded public open space and recreational area, offer a better experience to fisherfolk and other visitors, to meet the long-term needs of the local community of Strandfontein and surrounding areas and strengthen the identity of the place including fishing activity and natural landscaping, said Mr Oelofse.

A meeting was held at the Sub-council 23 chambers with fisherfolk on May 18 2019 on the safety issues at Fisherman’s Lane.

Fisherfolk frequenting the angling spot have been complaining about the state of the area for many years, which have been documented by the Plainsman (“Damaged beach road angers residents”, Plainsman, September 7 2016, “Residents petition to speed up road repair”, Plainsman, September 21 2016, “Residents in a rage about road”, Plainsman, October 11 2017, “City barricades broken road”, Plainsman, November 1 2017, “It’s a long road for Fisherman’s Lane repairs”, Plainsman July 18 2018, “Fishermen advised to create forum, April 17 2019).

Fisherman André Flores told the Plainsman on Friday August 27, the broken road is safer on the side of the road that is not broken. Once you cross the broken road, it becomes unsafe, he said.

He said for personal safety everyone is now standing in the same spot.

“Every time the road is broken, it’s not fixed as it should be. More than 150 people would fish on the safer side of the road or beachgoers would stand on the safer side of the road. We would like this road fixed,” he said.

People would use the grass patch beside the broken road to cross over onto the other side of the broken road to fish or enjoy the beach, said Mr Flores.

The fishermen pay for fishing licenses in order to fish, he said. He would like more law enforcement visibility with a noticeable police presence in the area, for everyone’s safety, said Mr Flores.

Activist and retired police captain Keith Blake, who frequents the fishing spot, has raised the issue of fixing the road for many years.

He first started fishing in 2009 and “everything was perfect.”

“Families fished together, women could use decent toilets made available at the beach front, there was a pensioners’ corner, I liked what I saw then. The road later started falling in, waves crashed into it, it started falling badly and quickly. A braai area was made available but was not good and decent enough for usage,” said Mr Blake.

He started writing letters in 2010 to officials and newspapers. “A plan to fix Sea Point boulevard was put in place back then. What about the Cape Flats, why wasn’t Strandfontein Beach not receiving this attention too?” he said.

“The ’broken road’ became worse over the years, I even saw a man fall over it. I am happy to be in engagement with Mr Jansen and Mr Oelofse, to make sure the broken road is fixed,” said Mr Blake.

This will make the fisherfolk and beachgoers happy, he said.

Mr Blake said the hope is that small businesses will also have the opportunity to use the space in the future.

“The end goal is to have our own Waterfront, on the Cape Flats. It will be so beautiful for all at Strandfontein Beach,” said Mr Blake.