Old subway a nuisance

The flooded subway off Fish Hoek beach.

A civic organisation has called for the closure of a subway off Fish Hoek beach, saying it has become an unsafe and smelly trap for litter and stagnating seawater.

Brian Youngblood, chairman of the Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, said the subway leading from the beach under the railway line to Dolphin Park had been the subject of “several complaints”.

He said Jager’s Walk had once been a pier, under which the sea had flowed freely with the changing tides, but it had been extended, as a mole with a walkway on top, between 1976 and 1979, and a seawater pump had been installed in the passage.

However, the City-provided water pump, now on its third replacement, had not been working for a long time, and Mr Youngblood said that the trapped seawater had turned green with algae.

“Large rocks have been placed in the passage to act as stepping stones. The sea level is progressively rising and will require even more pumping. Every time the wall is breached by the sea it leaves high piles of sand that have to be manually removed. It does not seem to be a viable option to continuously replace broken pumps,” he said.

Another worry is that the pump connection box in the passage is open and electrical wires are exposed.

“This is dangerous,” Mr Youngblood said.

Most mornings, the passage smelled of urine and was choked with rubbish, including shopping trolleys and enough plastic to clog any working pump.

Homeless people slept in the passage, he said.

“It was also reputed to shelter prostitutes and drug users and their dealers; and it was a perfect hiding spot and escape route for muggers.

The association says the passage does not meet Blue Flag status safety criteria.

“We fail to see how this area can be considered safe,” Mr Youngblood said.

The subway was opened to the sea after City officials inspected it in June 2015, but Mr Youngblood said that had done little to solve the problem.

“The City has recently said that it is preparing a business plan to present to the national Department of Transport to take over Metrorail. Meanwhile, Metrorail has said that this passage is already the City of Cape Town’s responsibility,” Mr Youngblood said.

The association wants the subway to advertised for public closure and then filled in permanently “with a suitable drainage solution”.

Another option, he said, would be turn the Jager’s Walk mole back into a pier allowing for free tidal movement of the sea under it.

A City spokeswoman said many beachgoers used the subway, so its closure was “not being considered”. However, the City was “ investigating solutions to make the subway safer and more user-friendly”.