Railway safety risk

2016-04-05 06:00
Somerset Park residents in Retreat are complaining about a missing fence along the railway line which had become a huge safety risk for them.

Somerset Park residents in Retreat are complaining about a missing fence along the railway line which had become a huge safety risk for them.

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Somerset Park Residents in Retreat are living in fear because of the missing fence along the railway line and complain that it is a safety concern.

They say over a couple of months the palisade slabs where removed one after the other until it was all gone. Now they are worried that the missing fence has become a safety risk for them.

Recently an old woman’s house was broken into and there has been an increase in crime in that area and they blame it all on the missing fence.

Resident Claudia Hendricks says the area is unsafe for them now.

“It used to be peaceful and quiet. Now you have to look over your shoulder all the time. People sitting on corners scare me. We have elderly people that are at home alone during the day; they are not safe at all. I have sent several emails to (the railway) but all they do is pass it on to the next person and we never get a response. We are not asking for something that costs millions – we just want a fence so that we can be safe,” she says.

To add insult to residents’ injuries, there is a worry that the lack of fence is exacerbating illegal dumping, creating a health hazard. Vagrants are also allegedly sleeping and defecating at the site.

“The place is very unhygienic. We want something done. We are at risk, and have also had kids ringing the doorbell constantly running in and out the area,” says Hendricks.

“This has really become unpleasant and it’s getting worse. There have been people squatting as their blankets are hanging over the trees, the litter is increasing daily. The area is appalling, unhygienic and becoming more unsafe by the day due the increase of the strange people that are walking up and down via the through-fare.”

Residents have tried to get the Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (Prasa) to fix the fence, but all their calls fell on deaf ears, they say.

Prasa had not commented at the time of going to print.

Kevin Southgate, the ward councillor in the area, has been trying numerous times to get Prasa to the party, but nothing has been done.

“I visited the site and the conditions are appalling. People are dumping on the vacant plot adjacent to the fence which is totally exposed to the railway tracks,” says Southgate.

“It is unfair for the residents to be exposed to the social ills associated with the status of the property as well as having their personal safety and that of their property compromised,” he says.

The situation at Retreat station is becoming intolerable as it continues to compromise the safety of neighbours and pedestrians, Southgate adds.

“The lack of response from (the railway) increases the exposure of the affected communities to the risk of crime.”

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