Field of bad dreams

The vacant plot in Tarentaal Road, Bridgetown, is being used for illegal dumping, and it has now led to rodents invading the area. Community leaders have also expressed concern that robbers and thieves use the field as a short-cut after they have committed crimes.

The Bridgetown community believes a vacant piece of land situated in Tarentaal Road is being used by robbers and thieves as a short-cut, and illegal dumping has spiked so much that it has lead to rodents invading the area.

At least one shack has also been erected there.

The field is between Impact Direct Ministries and the Cape Town Association for the Physical Disabled, and it is bordered by the N2.

According to Ward 44 councillor Anthony Moses, the vacant land runs across three erfs, and only the one next to Impact Direct Ministries belongs to the City of Cape Town.

Sadu Davids, the coordinator of the Bridgetown Neighbourhood Watch (NHW), said these challenges had been coming along for many years.

“People have been dumping illegally on open fields in Tarentaal Road forever. We have also noticed a spike in crime recently. We’ve noticed that where houses are built only on the one side of the road, thieves target those properties. We had vigils at this field for one month, in order to deter the thieves, but we can’t put our focus just on one road. We are trying our best, but we need help from the authorities,” Mr Davids said.

Ricky Johnson, from the Bridgetown Development Forum, said a few shacks had already been demolished in that area, but that another shack had been built.

“With many of the house break-ins that occur here, the thieves use the vacant land as a short-cut. Robbers have also targeted people walking over the field. Children who use the Bunga Avenue bridge to make their way to school, have also been regular targets of robbers,” he said.

“We would like the City to erect a fence along the N2, so that it can no longer be used as a short-cut. The current fence was badly vandalised and it is not effective at all,” Mr Johnson said.

He said although they receive the support from the different ward councillors, like Mr Moses, the community wants more than “I will report it”.

“We want more than reports. Our plea to the City is for them to step up their game. We really need the councillors to take the community to heart. We are pleading with them to look at all the open spaces, as it has become unhygienic, and we feel like prisoners in our own homes, in fear of becoming a victim of crime. We really want to develop Bridgetown, and that includes taking up the safety and security of the area,” said Mr Johnson said.

Mr Moses confirmed that the area along Tarentaal Road had become a “regular dumping
site”.

“I was there on Friday March 1 to check whether the area had been cleaned up, and I reported the matter to mayor Dan Plato’s office, as well as Law Enforcement. The City’s Displaced People’s Unit will also demolish the current shack that is on the property. I have also had a meeting with the neighbourhood watch about this matter. What I have found, is that there are a number of illegal dumping sites, from Blossom Street in Bridgetown, all the way to NY1 in Steve Biko Road.

“I’ve reported all these dumping sites and the worst one is opposite Vangate Mall, near the FNB bank. The community must know that we’ve got our hands on it, and we will also see what can be done with the vacant land in Tarentaal Road in the future,” Mr Moses said.

Law Enforcement spokesperson, Wayne Dyason, said this City department does conduct patrols in the area.

“Officers also attend to complaints received. The public is encouraged to phone the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre to report any concerns by dialling 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline,” Mr Dyason said.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, said the City’s environmental health department had not received any complaints about the plots in question. He added that staff conduct edinspections and took action where needed.

Dr Badroodien urged the community to be vigilant and to report illegal dumping. He also encouraged residents to make use of the nearest waste drop-off sites, which are situated at the Athlone Refuse Transfer Station in Langa, and in Induland Road in Lansdowne, to dispose of excess waste.

Meanwhile, Mr Plato launched a city-wide clean-up campaign on Monday March 4.

He adjusted his budget last month to allocate an extra
R115 million to cleaning up communities and informal settlements across Cape Town. Mr Plato called on all communities to join efforts to keep communities clean.

Report illegal dumping by calling 0860 103 089 or email Wastewise.user@capetown.gov.za

If you can identify illegal dumping offenders, call 0860 103 089 or 021 444 62 23/4 or email SolidWaste.Bylaw@capetown.gov.za

Bridgetown residents can also report rodent complaints to the Environmental Health Office, which is located at the clinic in Petunia Road, Silvertown, or by calling 021 444 66 36 during weekdays.