Funds fail rail fence

The old run-down fence on Labiance's side of the railway line.

After a two-year uphill battle to have a fence erected along the railway line between Labiance and Glenhaven, residents will have to wait a little longer because the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) is still evaluating the project.

Prasa admits the R400 000 fence installation is on its 2016/2017 budget, but says several things have delayed the project and it can’t say when it’s likely to be completed.

Labiance Neighbourhood Watch chairman Morne Otto says the issue dates back to before 2014 and residents main concern is their safety.

“Labiance is actually classified as an estate, and on an estate you would like to feel safe. To be safe, the foot traffic of non-residents needs to be cut down, and to be able do that, the railway line needs to be fenced off on Labiance side and Glenhaven’s side. “A fence on only one side, will make it easier to be damaged or broken, and it is a safer option for residents staying close to the railway line on both sides, when it comes to smash and grab crimes.”

In the past two years, Mr Otto said, a child and one adult had been killed while crossing the train tracks and there had been an increase in robberies as people walked through the areas as a shortcut to Glenhaven and vice versa.

On Saturday August 13, petrol attendant Harrison Shumba was stabbed to death by two men who tried to rob him as he walked through Labiance on his way home to Glenhaven after his night shift. (“Resident rally for slain man,” Northern News Thursday August 25).

Metrorail Western Cape spokeswoman Zino Mihi said it all came down to available resources.

“Due to the vastness of the region and resources available, it’s replacement has to be prioritised against other fencing projects. The prioritisation is based on a risk assessment comprising a number of criteria. Where funding proves insufficient for the extent of the need, we engage with provincial and local authorities who also have a vested interest in service delivery to the residents of Cape Town,” said Ms Mihi.

Prasa was also in the middle of a massive modernisation drive, with concomitant upgrades planned for its infrastructure, which had taken priority over other projects.

Mr Otto said the matter had now been referred to Ward 9 councillor Mercia Kleinsmith who had met with watch members on Thursday September 1 to discuss it and other issues.

Ms Kleinsmith said Prasa had told her they were about to appoint a contractor for the project. “They, however, have a few problems with the ordering of the fence,” she said, adding that residents’ concerns were valid because of burglaries and robberies that had taken place in the area.

“I was approached by residents just after the elections as this area came with the new municipal boundary demarcation and is included in my ward. I would like to encourage residents to be active citizens and keep reporting these issues – both to the police and the City’s Metro Police – and to keep me abreast of developments as well, so I may escalate them in my capacity as the ward councillor for the area.”

Ms Mihi said the Labiance fencing project would be completed as soon as “practically possible”.