Clarion call for canal

2015-05-05 06:00
Concerns have been raised that this canal is used by vagrants, criminals and prostitutes. 

PHOTO: 
MONIQUE DUVAL

Concerns have been raised that this canal is used by vagrants, criminals and prostitutes. PHOTO: MONIQUE DUVAL

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An underground canal in Wynberg has sparked concern among residents.

This follows a spate of break-ins at properties south of Maynardville Park.

The opening to the canal which is bordered by Piers Road, Devonshire Road, Vriedenhof and Oak Avenue has been inspected by the neighbourhood watch and found to harbour vagrants’ possessions.

During a site meeting at the canal last week, members of the neighbourhood watch and the Wynberg Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (WRRA), raised various concerns about safety, access and prostitution.

According to Brett Herron, City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for transport, the stormwater system originates in Wynberg Park, crosses under Waterloo Road and flows downstream in a combination of underground and open systems ­before discharging into the Maynardville Pond.

“From this point on, the system is predominantly an open-lined canal running down Oak/Devonshire roads and then through private property with culverts at the road crossings. As from Sherard Square, the system flows underground and eventually discharges into the Diep River in Main Road,” he explains.

Resident Julian Emdon explains while the canal is designed to carry stormwater, it also serves as a concealed pathway through much of Wynberg for people who, for whatever reason, don’t want to be seen walking on the streets.

“As it runs adjacent to many properties it also serves as an access point to those properties, where an intruder is free to break a fence without being watched as they would be on the street.”

In addition, he says, there is clear evidence that it is being used as shelter by the homeless.

“This is obviously dangerous and unsanitary. Anybody who is sleeping there may be drowned should stormwater suddenly flow through the canal.

“Human waste is carried through the neighbourhood in the open air rather than a sewer. The blankets, clothing and other waste left by those seeking shelter in the canal also impede the stormwater function of the canal and have the capability to cause flooding in the neighbourhood.”

At the site meeting residents raised concerns about recent break-ins at properties surrounding the canal.

This was confirmed by Wynberg police. According to police spokesperson Warrant Officer Silvino Davids there have been burglaries at properties in surrounding roads as well, including Wellington and Cogill roads.

“The canal is known for being a sleeping place for vagrants but if the area was fenced off preventing people from accessing it, it would be safer. The canal does provide an escape route for criminals to move undetected,” he says.

Commenting on complaints that the grassed area around the canal is being used by prostitutes, WRRA chairperson Kristina Davidson says better lighting may alleviate the problem.

She also says access to the canal needs to be restricted and the fence should be ­repaired.

Herron says the City has received complaints about illegal dumping and street people and requests to erect swing gates across the canal for security.

He says erecting swing gates is not supported due to the potential flood risk to surrounding properties. “This particular stormwater system is under capacity and overtopping of the canal copings during ­major rainfall events is a regular occurrence. Placing any obstructions would thus increase the flood risk significantly.”

Responding to questions about the fencing, Herron explains the City only maintains fences at road crossings.

“The fences at the canal were erected in the past to restrict access to the canal but the downside is that access for maintenance purposes becomes restricted.

“Fences along portions of the canal which cross private property must be maintained or erected by the property owners.”

He further says the proposal to install lights at the canal will be investigated by the City.

V

If you have complaints about the canal call the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089. V

What are your concerns about the canal? Starting with the word “Post”, SMS your thoughts to 32516. SMSes cost R1

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