People's Post

Still pleading for bridge

Children crossing the river, and playing in it. PHOTOS: NOMZAMO YUKU
Children crossing the river, and playing in it. PHOTOS: NOMZAMO YUKU

Residents of Statice Heights in Kewtown are worried because the construction of the Vygieskraal River footbridge that the City of Cape Town promised, has not even started (“Plans afoot for bridge over river”, People’s Post, 26 September).

They are concerned as the winter rains have started.

The residents requested the bridge nearly 10 years ago when they moved into RDP houses. Only in 2017 the City announced the plans to build the bridge.

Resident Saffiyah Brenner said it becomes worse in winter as they have to be cautious, assuring the safety of their children going and coming back from nearby schools in Bridgetown.

She says the river is always dirty, posing health risks to young and old, and is not safe during wet condition.

The long wait has put a strain on them, she said. “Children get sick from contracting germs from the river. They are young and do not know the water is not safe when it’s dirty, they just play there on their way from school,” Brenner said.

She also said they accompany children most mornings to make sure they safely cross to the other side. When it rains they walk around to Loerie Road, which is a 270 meters distance from where they want the bridge.

Brenner said over the years the City also failed to keep the river clean, saying the long grass turned the area into an illegal dumping site.

The water was murky and greenish from excessive algae when People’s Post visited the area on Friday 31 May. There was garbage lying around and a lot of people were walking to both sides of the river while few children attempted to play in the water before Brenner chased them away.

A primary school learner said they walk in a group so they can help each other if one falls in the water. He said it would be nice to have a safe bridge and they would enjoy going to school even more. “We would not have to worry about anything, the school is close by and it’s quick to walk there,” the learner said.

Another resident Zainuniessa Waggie runs a feeding scheme in the community and said it is sad to see children getting soaked from dew in the mornings. She appealed to the City to think of the negative impact the delay has on the community.

“We are raising future leaders and we are doing our part to make sure these children are on the right path, but without the help of the authorities it is difficult to achieve desired goals.”

She said communities are battling a high number of drop-outs due to social-ills such as drug usage, poverty, violence and a lack of service delivery, which should not be part of the problem.

Mayco member for transport Felicity Purchase said the construction of a temporary bridge was not feasible due to the high costs involved, as well as possible wasteful expenditure implications, considering that a permanent bridge would be constructed shortly thereafter.

The City advertised this tender on 14 September 2018 and the closing date was 16 October 2018. An appeal has been lodged against the decision of the City to award the contract to a specific contractor for this project.”

She discouraged people from crossing the river and advised that residents use the formal road.

Mayco member for water and waste, Xanthea Limberg blamed the dirtiness of the river to illegal dumping. She said there are numerous dumping hot spots in this vicinity which are regularly cleaned.

Limberg said the City even erected no dumping signage which “is not a deterrent and is often stolen.”

“However, we do attempt to clean the Vygieskraal area at least once a week due to the extent of the dumping,” Limberg said.

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