Sea rescue volunteers say the R3.4 million reconstruction programme of Fisherman’s Lane, in Strandfontein, comes at the right time – ahead of the festive season, when thousands of people flock to the False Bay coastline in December.
Vaughn Seconds, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) commander of Station 16 (Strandfontein), told the Plainsman the “broken road”, as it is commonly known, had affected their sea rescue operations. It barred immediate access to the coastline and often they had to rescue people who got stuck in the crevices.
Mr Seconds said the reconstruction would help them get vessels and vehicles closer to the beach and coastline.
The NSRI base is closer to the Mitchell’s Plain end of the coastline, whereas the five to six metre craters are on the other side of Strandfontein Pavilion, which is where people would wander and need help getting out.
Mr Seconds said they had to drive via Sonwabi, closer to Muizenberg, to gain access to the beach to help bathers and anglers. “The other day a trek fishing boat was in trouble and we had issues getting to the coast on that side,” he said.
Mr Seconds said the reconstruction brings much needed relief in an unsafe area.
Strandfontein resident Mario Oostendurp, who initiated the Proudly Strandfontein Campaign and who had “aggressively” been emailing the City of Cape Town for the last five years about the crumbling road, said the reconstruction comes ahead of the next general elections in 2019 when a new national assembly and new provincial legislatures in each province will be voted in.
He said every four to five years, just before elections, little things are done to keep people happy.
“It seems it was not in the municipality’s interest to develop along the False Bay coastline but other areas have been redeveloped and developed but now when elections are around the corner now something is being done,” he said.
“This has always been a safety concern. It is a pity we had to fight with them (the municipality) to get something done,” he said.
Mr Oostendurp said at this stage beach users should accept whatever the municipality is willing to give. “Safety has always been my biggest concern. We can’t wait forever for big developments,” he said.
In 2016, close to 200 people signed an online petition asking the City to speed up the Fisherman’s Lane repairs (“City finally barricades ‘Broken Road’,” Plainsman January 2017)
The Plainsman has documented the washing away of this boardwalk (“Fisherman’s Lane still in disrepair,” Plainsman January 4, 2017, “Residents in a rage about road,” October 11, 2017).
Mr Oostendurp said it is “good and well” that promises were being made but that time-lines had to be given.
Millennium Angling Club said in Facebook messages to the Plainsman that they would like to know “where the sudden change of heart” came from “regarding our traditional fishing spot ‘broken road’”.
“We’ve been asking the Cape Town government for years and their reply has always been (sic) they don’t have money to spend on a coastline that is deteriorating faster than they can repair,” read the message.
According to a City media release Fisherman’s Lane parking area has had a troublesome relationship with the ocean, resulting in degradation of the sea wall and adjoining infrastructure.
“The area, situated close to Strandfontein Pavilion, has been in the spotlight on several occasions as a result of the erosion to the infrastructure caused by spring tides and wave action,” the release reads.
In October 2017, a report on remedial action was submitted to the City’s Coastal Transversal Working Group and six months later in May 2018, a contractor moved onto the site to start a nine-week project aimed at restoring the infrastructure and preventing future damage.
Assisted by four local labourers, the contractor has thus far removed all the existing asphalt layers and sub base materials and started constructing a gabion retaining wall, working in 20-metre sections at a time.
Other construction aspects planned includes excavating and reinstalling the parking area edge and diverting the sewer line underneath the parking area.
The project is being funded by the City’s recreation and parks department as the facility owner,
in partnership with the City’s coastal management department who designed the engineering solution.
JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, and social services, said he was impressed by the work being done and at the rate the contractor was progressing.
“It is our hope that the fishing fraternity will find the upgrades and reinforcements a step up from the challenges that they’ve had to contend with in the past.
“I also urge fishermen using the facility to please desist from driving over the dunes, but instead to use only the path leading out of the parking area to get to their fishing spot,” he said.
The City’s recreation and parks department is also in the process of assessing Strandfontein Pavilion for a possible upgrade.