For two years Lakeview residents felt their hands were tied as they watched an open field owned by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) in Chad Road being turned into an unhealthy dumping spot.
There was also concern about people abusing drugs in an abandoned train next to the property.
And even while they have been waiting for Prasa to put a fence around the plot, builders working on the neighbouring private property have been dumping rubble there.
Monica Petersen, chairperson of the Lakeview Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, said the field is not only a health hazard but a danger to commuters.
“People are also using it as a short-cut to the station. It is very dangerous because people are going over the railway line. We have spoken to our ward councillor Kevin Southgate about it, so he is aware of it.”
Mr Southgate said there has been numerous complaints about the property over the past two years and Prasa is fully aware of them.
“I have written to all the relevant persons and the response was always the same. The problem starts with the broken fence that I have asked to be replaced as this results in people having easy access to the facility. The trolley people use this as a sorting facility while making their way to the scrapyard or recycling facilities. Prasa’s response has been that either their budget has been insufficient and that they were awaiting the new allocation. Then again we were told that there was a problem with the tender and that they had to redo the process.”
Mr Southgate said an alleged cable thief had been electrocuted there and also that train carriages had been set alight by those smoking drugs. He said a fence would have prevented these from taking place and would also have been cheaper for Prasa.
Mr Southgate said they have received many complaints of people using drugs at the property. “Some end up smoking drugs in the trains that are parked in the siding and which has been the result of the fires. Others use it as a thoroughfare to gain access to the homes of the surrounding residents.
“The City has approached Prasa but their response is always nonchalant. In the latest action I have requested the City’s environmental health department to investigate the complaints. They have confirmed that the facility is an illegal dump and that it is unhealthy. They are currently in the process of serving Prasa with a notice.”
Prasa spokesperson Riana Scott said there was no money for the fence in this financial year but it would be “considered” in the 2018/2019 budget.
“The replacement/ upgrading or repairs thereof is planned and prioritised annually in terms of urgency/ necessity and implemented according to available funding. Due to the vastness of the region and resources available, replacement/ repair has to be prioritised against other pressing and equally valid projects.
“Residents’ concern about Chad Road and its environs has however been elevated to senior managers to re-assess in case additional funding become available. The fencing budget for this year (2017/2018) has been committed and earliest consideration would be for the next financial cycle.”
Ms Scott said they try to lease or develop vacant Prasa property depending on what it is zoned
She said the properties are fenced off but get vandalised “repeatedly.”