Cape Town – Muizenberg beachgoers and surfers are having to scale a fence and duck under an open fence to cross the railway line just to reach the beach.
The pedestrian crossing, placed in the middle of the railway, is closed since trains are not moving and the gate motor was vandalised. Businesses and beachgoers are not happy with Metrorail’s decision to close the pedestrian crossing.
Nicky Johaadien, a beachgoer, said the gate should be left open.
“Trains are not moving and the gate motor is damaged according to Metrorail, why not leave the gate open? Now we cross at an illegal opening which was made by people who feared using the subway or the other crossing, which is a bit far.”
Johaadien said people used to buy snacks from shops then go back to the beach.
“It is difficult to do that anymore because we no longer have direct access to the shops. So, businesses are also affected by this unnecessary closure.”
The subway, which is an alternative to access the beach, is dark and filthy. When the Weekend Argus visited it, there were homeless people sleeping in it and no security close by. Residents said robberies are common in the subway and people are advised not to walk alone.
Muizenberg Ward councillor Aimee Kuhl said she too is not happy with the closure.
“It is affecting residents and businesses. We have met with Prasa and told them to open the pedestrian crossing. It must be opened manually and have someone to look after the safety of residents while crossing.”
Prasa spokesperson Riana Scott said incessant vandalism of the gate components, in particular the motor, reached a point where it was unsustainable and they had to close it.
“The drain on resources (human and financial) can no longer be justified. The pedestrian crossing is closed for rail safety reasons while engineers grapple with designing more robust means of operating the gate or find alternative solutions.”
She added that a meeting was held last week with representatives of local business and residents to explain the rationale for the temporary closure.
“The subway acts as both street to street access as well as providing access to the station platform. The light fixtures of the subway are also vandalised regularly. Socio-economic issues such as petty crime, vandalism and drug abuse need to be addressed by law enforcement and social agencies for any solution to warrant re-opening the gate.”