Increased litter near railway fence causing rodent infestation

An overflow of litter against the railway fence has caused a rodent problem.

An open railway gate with a broken lock, an increase in homeless people and a rat infestation is causing a headache for residents and a mosque located in Stegman Road, Claremont.

Chairman of the Al Jaamia Mosque in Stegman Road, Nazeem Jamie says there has been an increase in rodents due to more litter from the homeless living against the railway fence and bakkies dumping illegally in the evening.

Tents set up by street people located opposite the railway fence.

Homeless people who have set up tents opposite the railway fence are also contributing to the litter.

An unlocked Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (PRASA) gate has also resulted in criminals targeting that area.

PRASA spokesperson, Riana Scott says they are aware of the issue as the service gate provides access to different teams working in the rail reserve. “Unfortunately the gate is being vandalised constantly and has been repaired countless times,” she says.

Ms Scott says taxi drivers and vagrants used rail reserves to relieve themselves due to lack of public ablutions. “The anticipated upgrade of the nearby Public Transport Interchange will bring relief as the facilities will address the current situation,” she says.

Mr Jamie says there has been a homeless problem in the parking area near the railway fence for the past seven years but in the past four months it has escalated.

“We have around 18 homeless people living here, though sometimes it goes up to 40 people.”

A section of the fence opposite the railway line, which people jump over to come through the open gate that leads to Stegman Road.

Mr Jamie says he has spoken to the homeless people to advise them that they can’t have too many people living there and this has resulted in a few of them leaving the area.

“Our biggest concern is the health and safety of the people and we are appealing to the City of Cape Town to do a regular clean up.”

To counter the problem of criminals using the railway line and open gate to enter and flee the area, the Al Jaamia Mosque along with the Tamarisk Body Corporate raised funds to set up one closed circuit television camera (CCTV) that focuses on Stegman Road.

Trustee of the Tamarisk Body Corporate, Alan Burns says they are fundraising with the mosque to place another camera up that faces the parking area which leads to the railway fence. “We always work with the mosque to keep the area clean, though we do notice that there is an influx in people as well as different people walking in and out of the open gate,” he says.

The City’s Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Dr Zahid Badroodien says the City’s Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) will investigate the concerns raised.

“Staff would need to first establish ownership of the land concerned and due process would be followed to ensure the clean-up of the property by the owners,” he said.

With regards to the rodent problem in the area, Dr Badroodien says the EHPs will arrange rat baiting of the surrounding area.

The open railway gate located down Stegman Road which are used by people to cross the railway illegally.

Dr Badroodien has urged all residents to log any concerns about environmental health matters to the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089 or to log a service request online at http://www.capetown.gov.za/servicerequests.

With regards to the street people, Dr Badroodien says the City is aware of the increase in the number of street people in numerous suburbs across the metropole.

“The City has been at pains to point out the limitations on it from an enforcement perspective as a result of the disaster regulations, and other legal challenges,” he says.

Dr Badroodien says from a social development perspective the City tries everything to assist the homeless by getting them to a shelter, assisting with Identification Documents to access social grants or reintegrating them with their families though only a small number of homeless people accept their help.

“The City appeals to the public to assist the street people by donating to registered non-profit organisations and not by giving individual donations and handouts which keep them on the streets,” he said.