Station users at risk

2016-03-29 06:00
 The Acre Road Community Safety Watch got some of their members and children in the area to clean up around the Century City station during the school holidays. Inset:  Overflowing sewerage water has been causing a stink under these stairs at Century City station since 2014. PHOTOs: gary van dyk

The Acre Road Community Safety Watch got some of their members and children in the area to clean up around the Century City station during the school holidays. Inset: Overflowing sewerage water has been causing a stink under these stairs at Century City station since 2014. PHOTOs: gary van dyk

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Community concerns about the safety of commuters and pedestrians around the Century City station need to be addressed, but a local organisation is calling for urgent action.

Members of the Acre Road Community Safety Watch in Kensington have been monitoring and patrolling in the area for the past few months.

They have notified authorities of the safety issues, but nothing is being done to improve the conditions at the station and surrounding areas, they say.

Stanley van Breda, vice-chairperson of the organisation, said that they are tired of people passing the buck on who is responsible for maintaining the station and the surrounding area.

“There have been so many incidents where people have been robbed at the station or while using it to cross from the shopping centre to get back home to Kensington,” he said.

“One of the major problems is that the security at the station just closes its doors after the last train, so criminals have free rein to do what they want.

“We have been patrolling here to the best of our ability but the facility has been targeted and there are many sections that have been damaged because of the lack of security.”

On a short tour of the station area it becomes clear that security needs to be upgraded. Light fittings on the stairs and ramp leading up to the station entrance are missing and there is a terrible stench in the area.

“We reported it to Transnet more than six months ago but nothing has been done,” continued Van Breda.

“There’s been an overflowing of what seems to be sewerage water under the stairs since 2014 and it gets worse when it rains.

“The lack of security is also the cause of rampant dumping on the field on the Kensington side of the station and there are also no refuse bins on this side of the station.

“With no maintenance the overgrown grass and trees next to the pathway and fence of the station platform also provide a hiding place for muggers.”

Another member of the organisation, Raymond Diedericks, added that the parking area also needed attention.

“They want us to use the trains, but if they don’t provide proper parking facilities what must we do?” he asked.

“In fact, there really is no parking because the entrance to the parking area from Acre Road has been closed. We still don’t know why this entrance was closed but some motorists still make their way through an opening, either to fetch travellers or park there during the day while using the trains.

“Our main concern is the lack of visible security because criminals can break into these cars and the people using the station are constantly at risk.”

“We’ve written to all the authorities concerned – Transnet, Prasa, Metrorail – without any positive response. I’ve reported illegal dumping but they don’t get back to you to report if the guilty parties have been prosecuted,” said Diedericks.

One of the only replies received was from Buntu Nkhoma of Transnet in Cape Town, who wrote last week: “Transnet only owns the land but all the underground services belong to the City of Cape Town. Please follow up this matter with City offices.”

“I cannot believe that they can’t liaise with the relevant people to solve this problem for the people who are their customers who use the station,” said Diedericks.
“What about our other issues? Don’t they care?
“An added problem is that there are dogs following their owners to the station that end up playing in the overflowing sewerage water. The dogs then go home taking along sicknesses which is a health risk.
“Also with winter approaching, there is no proper lighting on the ramp and stairs leading to the station which is of great concern for the community taking trains early in the morning and returning after dark. Who is responsible for providing adequate lighting?”

Van Breda added that as an organisation they were doing their best to provide some security for people travelling home, either from working at Century City or using the trains, but it was not enough.
“We cannot be here all the time but we are glad that we can make some difference,” he said.
“It would help if the authorities work with us to improve the situation and we welcome more residents of the area in joining us to improve safety in the whole neighbourhood.
“As you can see we even do sessions where we come here with our members and children in the area to clean up around the station because we care, but the authorities must also play their part.
“We need more volunteers because working together we can improve safety here and in the whole neighbourhood. Safety for all is vital,” he said.
For more information about the organisation call Van Breda on 082 325 9451 or Diedericks on 071 526 0215.

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