Narrow lane is no place for trucks, say residents

A “no truck” sign at the entrance to Wickboom Lane in Simon’s Town.

An increase of trucks on Wickboom Lane due to construction has Simon’s Town residents fearing another road collapse and an increase in water outages in an area already plagued by water problems.

Earlier this month, residents of Ricketts Close were left without water for six days.

According to data compiled by resident Tom Cohen from the neighbourhood WhatsApp group, for Thomas Street, Water Lane, and Ricketts Close, which are only accessible by Wickboom Lane, there were 29 water outages in 2022 – an average of two a month.

Mr Cohen said that while there was no link to the recent water outage and the trucks on Wickboom Lane, the trucks increased the possibility of a road collapse, which had previously led to water outages in Ricketts Close.

Several road collapses last year had stopped residents coming and going from their properties, he said.

“As soon as residents hear that Wickboom Lane has been damaged, they respond with ‘move your cars and fill your buckets’.”

Mr Cohen said that while the City always responded quickly to service requests, the last water outage had been a “significant inconvenience”.

“Access to clean water is a basic service you expect,” he said.

Resident Dave Kloot said the City should replace all the water pipes in the area instead of repairing them on an ad hoc basis.

The water pipes, he said, were old and close to the surface of the road.

He said that for many years, a sign at the entrance to Wickboom Lane had prohibited five-ton trucks from using it, but the restriction had been waived by the City about six years ago when permission had been granted for a large development to the left of Juta Square.

That development, he said, was on hold, but a home was being built at the top of Juta Square in Thomas Street.

Members of the community had objected to the development, citing limited parking and narrow access roads, among others, he said.

Bronwen Cawood, the owner of Bayview House, a 200-year-old heritage building that borders Wickboom Lane, said cracks were starting to show in one of the rooms.

“The entire building shudders when the trucks come past,” she said.

The previous owners had to have one of the front rooms rebuilt due to the walls collapsing, she said.

“I have lodged complaints with Heritage Western Cape, and the City but have not had any response. I don’t know who to turn to anymore.”

She said they had objected to trucks being allowed on Wickboom Lane on many occasions but to no avail.

Mayoral committee member for urban mobility Rob Quintas said that a five-ton weight restriction had been imposed on Wickboom Lane, which limited its use by any vehicles exceeding five tons.

The City’s road infrastructure management department had raised the residents’ concerns with the architects responsible for the work at Thomas Street, he said.

The architects had been advised that the weight restriction was for the protection of heritage buildings such as Bayview House and also due to the width, gradient, and pavement structure of a lane not designed for heavy vehicles, he said.

The architects had promised to monitor the weight limit continuously while building work was ongoing, he said.

The Echo asked the City’s water and sanitation directorate what had caused the water outage in Ricketts Close and whether replacing the water pipes in the area was on the cards as part of the City’s R140 million water pipe replacement programme, but it did not respond by deadline.

Heritage Western Cape could not be reached for comment.

A road collapse in Wickboom Lane last year.
A large truck on the construction site at the top of Thomas Street above Juta square.
Roadworks in Ricketts Close during the Echo’s visit on Friday March 3.