Underground subways built for convenience in getting across treacherous roadways have become the scene of crime, grime and general neglect, and the subways under Liesbeek Parkway in Rondebosch is no exception.
The subways, including the subway along Rustenberg Girl’s High School which was built for residents and pupils to get to school, is covered with rubbish strewn alongside the entrance and among the homeless shelters constructed inside.
Rondebosch resident Kean Pearce said that he and his son were dodging human faeces while making their way to his son’s school through the subway. He said contact he made with the ward councillor and local enforcement groups led to nought as no one seems to be taking responsibility for the area.
“The state of the subways is disgusting. The subway under Liesbeek Parkway has not been cleaned in weeks and the subway under Campground going to the Spar is now permanently occupied by people seeking shelter.
“The subways are fantastic. People want to use them. The bicycle lane and subways are well used by cyclists, joggers, pupils and many more. The least the council can do is to keep them in a decent state. I have been in communication with the ward councillors as well as the Rondebosch Community Improvement District and Groote Schuur Community Improvement District. No one takes responsibility,” said Mr Pearce.
Spokesperson for Rustenburg Girls’ High School, Geila Wills, said the subway alongside the school was initially closed to the public due to it being dangerous. Currently the school has a groundsman stationed at the subway for half and hour in the morning and in the afternoon to ensure the safety of pupils using the subway.
Ward 59 councillor Ian Iversen said he has been involved in trying to clean up the subways for quite sometime, however, efforts made to clear the subways proved futile as those using the subway for shelter often return after it has been cleaned.
“There are three subways in that area and come winter, despite the little rain we’ve had, they become a ‘Holiday Inn’ for the homeless as the shelter is relatively dry and they feel that they have safety in numbers.
“We assist the homeless to get back on their feet but 90% of them are happy where they are and are not interested. The reality is that we can sort out the subway today, but in 24 hours it will look like nothing happened,” said Mr Iversen.
Mayoral committee member for area south, Eddie Andrews, said the subway is not neglected and is cleaned once weekly but the litter re-accumulates due to the vagrants who sleep in the area.
“The responsibility [to maintain the area] is shared across a number of departments like Energy, Solid Waste, the Transport and Urban Development Authority and Law Enforcement. The vagrant population is creating a lot of litter but it is still safer to use the subway than to cross Liesbeek Parkway,” said Mr Andrews.
When enquiring about the specific maintenance plan for the subway, Mr Andrews said that maintenance is carried out when needed, subject to each department’s resource availability. Mr Andrews also said that community initiatives regarding the subways would be supported by the City of Cape Town.
Mr Iversen said that residents should immediately register a concern regarding the subway with the City who can deal with it. He said a positive thing is that a few residents have made contact with his office to gain permission to paint the subways and clean it.
“It’s a marvelous thing to have social intervention in the subway,” said Mr Iversen.