Anglers, residents and community activists are sceptical about the work being done at Fisherman’s Lane in Strandfontein.
Plans for the space, which is used for angling, bathing and recreation, was discussed during a Strandfontein coastal node study public meeting hosted by Elton Jansen, councillor for Ward 43 and chairman of Sub-council 17, at their local community hall on Tuesday January 31.
Mr Jansen, City of Cape Town manager for coastal, environmental management, spatial planning and environment, Gregg Oelofse, and City manager for urban planning and design, Osman Damon, insisted that the project should progress and said that it would be monitored and evaluated.
André Arendse, angler and member of Ratepayers’ Forum and Economic Development’s (RAFED), incorporating Bayview and surrounding areas, explained how the current plan would create space between the fisherfolk and the coast.
He said during his childhood, during the apartheid regime, he had always marvelled at the white people enjoying the coast.
“I wanted that for me and my children. I am just so tired or fighting and wanting development for all of these years on our coastline, on our doorstep,” he said.
Mr Arendse said coloured people were confined to a specific area and that the largest pool in Southern Africa, Strandfontein tidal pool, was built to contain the community, where camp areas where made available.
“Because we could not go anywhere else. Now we have been enjoying relatively free access to all the beaches from Macassar to Strandfontein,” he said.
He said for the last 10 years the council has implemented by-laws, which are a synonymous with the National Party apartheid laws.
“They have closed off safe access to our beaches by declaring our coast as reserves which has now caused our anglers and beachgoers to become more vulnerable to criminals,” he said.
Mr Arendse also said the excavation of certain dunes would leave users vulnerable to natural and criminal elements as they would be far from their vehicles and their fishing gear.
He is of the opinion that the agreed plan was not used.
“What was promised and budgeted for we are not getting.
“This is nothing less than a breach of contract or agreement between the City and the ratepayers of this area,” he said.
He said “perfect infrastructure” was destroyed that reused materials would be used for roadway upgrades.
For a decade the “broken Fisherman’s Lane” saga has continued in talks but in November last year contractors took to the site.
The contractors have cleared spaces and laid foundations.
Community activist and Strandfontein Ratepayers and Residents’ Association member Ernest Theron asked about local labour opportunities during construction.
He questioned the three percent attributed to local labour.
Mr Damon responded by saying that majority of the work would be civil works and would require professional intervention.
He also said that once the contractor was on site they did not require a project steering committee but Mr Jansen said they would coordinate meetings to keep the community updated.
Walied Adams, also from RAFED, asked what the contractors were ploughing back into the community and whether the developed area would be sufficient for the number of people who usually flock to the coast during summer.
He confirmed that the City had removed the toilets and were not planning on replacing it.
“The boardwalk connecting the two parking areas is not happening, and they have reduced the access to this area by 80% therefore far less visitors can gain access even though visitors increase each year,” he said.
Mr Adams said: “Monitored and evaluated is just a smoke screen.Once the downgrade is completed its finish and kla.”
Mr Oelofse said the municipality and coast users had to continue talking to each other, which would determine how the space would be used.
“I believe it is an upgrade, I’ve seen people call it a downgrade. When the work is finished and people start using the space. Lets evaluate,” he said.
He said that he would like to see the area improved but it would be done step-by-step.
“We need to at least build it. See how it works. See how it is used. See how the coast settles. See how this all works. If there is a proliferation of people that want to braai here… then we’ll make a plan around the braai areas,” he said.
Mr Oelofse also said that the project had to be monitored for vandalism.
A City presentation detailing the nodal development notes Monwabisi, Mnandi, Strandfontein and Silverstroomstrand as “apartheid resorts”.
It further states that these resorts became dysfunctional with the change in urban area; and that they would now by recognised as coastal urban nodess.
The Fisherman’s Lane upgrade is under way in addition to a budget of R40 million earmarked for the Strandfontein pavillion.