Eddie Chinnappen of Metrorail and Tony Viera of the City’s Dept of Roads and Transport faced a barrage of questions from angry residents at the traffic and transport meeting held at the Fish Hoek Civic Centre last night (8 May 2013). The meeting, chaired by ex- councillor Nicki Holderness, was well-attended.
“We have had enough – enough of gridlocks, traffic problems, accidents…. We want the authorities to take note of our issues and to start planning not for us but with us.” In her introduction Nicki Holderniss said that invitations to the meeting had been issued to Golden Arrow Bus Service representatives, leaders of the Taxi Associations and the ED for Traffic Management and Law Enforcement. None of these attended the meeting, the latter having neither responded nor sent representatives.
After a presentation by Patrick Dowling of the Kommetjie Ratepayers’ Association of the “history” of the traffic crisis, residents were given the chance to voice their concerns.
Commuters from Kommetjie expressed anger about the fact that the 7km trip from the village to the 4-way intersection takes up to an hour each way at peak hour. “I have never been to any city in the world where this is the norm,” exclaimed a Kommetjie resident. She also queried why the newly created turnoff to Noordhoek near Sun Valley Mall, which would have helped with traffic flow in this area, is now blocked off. Nicki Holderness responded: “I have been given the answer to this but I do not understand it so I cannot tell you what it is. “ Plans are afoot to construct a 4-way highway to Kommetjie at the cost of R122 million, but objections were raised to this as it would “just move the traffic jam to a different section of the system.” An appeal was made for improvements to Ou Kaapse Weg and for restricting large vehicles from travelling at peak periods.
Tony Viera of the City responded that solutions currently in the planning stages will only bear fruit in 2016. In answer to the comment by Janet Holwill of the FHVRRA that there are 40 000 people in Masiphumelele alone who have to access their places of work and shops, he said that a public transport exchange is planned for Masiphumelele to get people into Fish Hoek and that the City is planning a feeder bus route along Kommetjie Road and considering taking over management of public transport systems.
An irate resident said she was furious that the residents of the South Peninsula are constantly being told that “there is not enough money in the budget” for projects to alleviate the traffic problems in the area, yet Entillini has been paid more R250 million for the maintenance of Chapman’s Peak. “We have three roads leading out of the area and for the use of one we are forced to pay a private company R33 each time we use it. Somebody has hoodwinked the entire area!” she said. Her passionate comments called forth loud applause.
Nicki Holderness added that there have been four occasions when the area was completely shut off: Ou Kaapse Weg was closed because of fires, Main road because of accidents and Chapman’s Peak for maintenance.
In response, Tony Viera said that he realised that the area is congested, but that there is a process “on the go and hopefully the South Peninsula will get a better share of the budget.”
Many residents expressed anger and frustration at the fact that their communications with the authorities are ignored. It seems that even emails from our councillors to City officials go unanswered. “There is no sense of urgency on the part of the City when it comes to problems experienced in the South Peninsula, ” was the general complaint. A resident commented that when she contacted the authorities about their plans for the area, the reply was: “the only thing we are planning to do is re-act!”
Metrorail came under fire for their poor service delivery, for the lack of safety on their trains, for train delays, for the state of the trains and for not taking the complaints and fears of their passengers and from civic bodies seriously. It was repeatedly stated at the meeting that the public need to have recourse to individuals who will pay attention to their grievances. Eddie Chinnappen of Metrorail acknowledged that this was a problem and offered to be the contact person for Metrorail until someone is permanently appointed. He explained that PRASA was responsible for the stations and Metrorail responsible for the trains and passengers.
METRORAIL CONTACT: EDDIE CHINNAPPEN 084 222 0111 or EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
With regard to the question of security, he acknowledged that there are just four Railway SAPS depots in Cape Town and that these are not working optimally. He said that PRASA and the government were currently dealing with this issue. “With 480 kms of track we do have problems with security, but we are addressing it.” Extra security is to be employed and the system reviewed as currently the security is contracted and the training not appropriate for the rail service.
Regarding delays and overcrowded trains, he said that the signalling system is very old and because the timetable is full during peak periods, it is impossible to add extra trains. A R2,5 billion tender to change the signalling will be put out this year. He said that it is impossible to lengthen trains as the distance between stations is too short in some areas. Metrorail is looking at missing out certain stations on the Southern route.
With regard to the state of the trains, he said that Metrorail has embarked on a multimillion rand project to introduce new, energy efficient trains on the Khayalitsha and Mitchell’s Plain lines. “Good trains will then be released from those lines for the Southern line,” he said.
Asked why there is no synchronisation between trains and buses as there was many years ago, and a serious lack of parking provided at the stations, he admitted that the issues are being dealt with and that “since 1996 investment into rail has been very poor.”
Residents loudly called for a moratorium on all development in the South Peninsula. At the start of the meeting Patrick Dowling of Kommetjie Ratepayers’ Association presented the history of the development of the present crisis. “Ou Kaapse Weg, which has for years been running at capacity, was built in the1960’s creating easy access to the South Peninsula with concomitant development taking place. This was the first stab at the integrity of the area. Wetlands were reclaimed and unbridled development went ahead,” he said.
A number of plans for the area have been in existence. The Cape metropolitan Area Guide Plan of 1988 was passed at the same time that a major portion of the South Peninsula was proclaimed a protected natural environment. According to this guide plan the then population figure of 40 000 would almost double if areas approved for development were to be exploited to the full – and it was acknowledged then that the road system would not cope. The population growth has far exceeded this figure with the attention of developers turning to the area during the boom time of 2005.
In 2005 the Bulk Infrastructure Study, which stipulated amongst other things that developers must pay towards the additional infrastructure required, was accepted without any public participation. Of the anticipated R80 million expected from the developers’ fund, only R1 million was realised. Patrick said that as a result of this study, earlier, wiser planning guides were abandoned, traffic congestion increased with the influx of people into the area, the integrity of the commons (the coastline, mountains and wetlands) was compromised, the economic base – tourism- has been eroded and there has been great pressure on a World Natural Heritage Site – this part of the Peninsula Mountain chain. “And then the latest District Plan H has been sucked out of thumbs. 4100 new units have been approved. With each household having an average of two vehicles this alone will add nearly 10 000 more cars to the roads daily. The City needs to acknowledge the critical trajectory we are on, we need a proper SEA carried out, a moratorium on all development, the infrastructure properly budgeted for and the projects actually done!”
Nicki Holderness closed the meeting with the comments that all the above issues have been brought to the attention of the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce to be put on their agenda and to the attention of the Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille. “We will receive feedback from the mayor on the 27 May. This is the beginning of a process. There are solutions….but we as residents must be involved in all the planning.
Viv von der Heyden
The following document has been submitted by Nicki Holderness to the Mayor of Cape Town:
Traffic and Transport in the Far South Peninsula
- A. Context
The area south of Silvermine Mountain has an economy based on tourism and outdoor recreation, attracting millions of visitors a year. 85% of the land comprises National Park and the World Heritage Site, with only a small proportion of the land available for development between land and mountain. These facts should form the basis of development and infrastructure planning in the area.
- B. Impact of Planning and Development Decisions
Developments indicated in the Bulk Infrastructure study in 2005 showed, residential only:
I. Approved 1113
II. In application 1005
III. Future developments 1845.
IV. Total 3963
Such development together with the unmanaged encroachment into the wetlands adjoining Masiphumelele has not been matched either by improvements in traffic management and design or expansion of other services such as school and clinic facilities.
Three recent development proposals in Kommetjie were submitted to DEADP who indicated that traffic impact was a relevant factor in its decision making and requested a Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA).This was to take into account the cumulative impact of all the recently approved, as well as the currently pending, residential development applications lodged with this department.
Chand commissioned a Regional Traffic Impact assessment which was produced by Gibb.
The Kommetjie Ratepayers and Residents Association (KR&RA) disputed the information in the TIA e.g. the statement that there were fewer vehicles on the roads, and with the support of the Far South Peninsula Community Forum (FSPCF) engaged a professional engineer to peer review the study.
This peer review indicated the Gibb TIA had used inappropriate methodology and, in essence, was unreliable and inaccurate. The study area was also limited and did not include several developments in other areas of the Far South which makes the assessment incomplete and does not provide a true reflection of traffic growth and its potential impact on our 4 main arterial roads.
Another factor causing concern is the impact of the new City zoning scheme and the unintended consequences of increased densification not matched by capital funding outside of tariff-based services.
Further to this the Bulk Infrastructure Study originally commissioned by certain developers together with the City officials makes it clear that new infrastructure and services will be funded by developers through development contributions and no provision made on the capital budget. This study never went through any public participation process. Moreover, when queried, civic groups were assured that all such development contributions would be retained for infrastructure in the Far South together with the interest accruing. Despite regular queries we are not able to verify the status and quantum of this account.
- C. Current Road Situation
We have 4 main arterial roads serving the Far South:
a) Ou Kaapse Weg
b) Main Road/ Boyes Drive running along the coast.
c) Chapman’s Peak Drive, a provincial toll road licensed to Entilini.
d) Kommetjie Road running east to west.
It is a fact that the roads have already reached critical levels of congestion; that this affects the mobility of the residents, to work, to schools, to health facilities and to recreation. It has had a major impact on the local economy, has seriously affected naval and dockyard employees and costs of transporting goods to and from the area have increased. Bus and taxi systems have been affected and coordination with the rails service is unworkable.
Gridlock is frequent and it must be noted that there have been occasions when the area was isolated because of fatalities and fires which force road closure. This has a serious impact on emergency services and health and safety in the Far South region.
Many meetings have been held with various officials over the years, many studies drawn up without implementation. Considerable energy has been spent by a variety of civic groups in every way to stress the necessity for a Strategic Environmental Analysis (SEA) of the Far South to enable data-based, coordinated planning in this sensitive region.
- D. We now request most urgently:
- That an SEA be undertaken: holistic planning and assessment is essential to practical solutions.
- That no further development be considered until 1 has been completed and a plan which can be interrogated by the public drawn up.
- That the City advise what its Disaster Management Plan is for the Far South.
- That the City advise of any current plans for road improvements and the funding for these.
- That the City advise the status of the development levy fund for the Far South.
- That the City advise on its current traffic management plan and personnel for the Far South.
- That the City coordinate an effective public transport system in the Far South.
- That the City develop an holistic traffic management plan for the Far South Peninsula that takes into account vehicles and pedestrians and that incorporates new thinking in road design which respects mobility and social factors and promotes the natural beauty and sense of place in the Far South.
26 April 2013