GEORGE NEWS - With locals in agreement that safety at the now infamous Voëlklip viewpoint should be jacked up, it has been decided that barriers will be erected at the danger spots along the road.
A renewed call to action came after another person drove off the cliff near Herold's Bay on Wednesday morning 29 January - the third incident at Voëlklip in just over three months.
Heidi Scheepers and her two children, Cozette (6) and Hugo (2) plunged down the cliff in their VW Caravelle on Tuesday 22 October.
On Tuesday 3 December Zonita Basson (52) died when she drove her red Chevrolet Spark off the cliff, and last week a prominent businessman (52) from Port Elizabeth died in the same way when he sped off the cliff in a rental car. This, despite eyewitnesses apparently trying to stop him (read this article elsewhere on the page).
A concerned resident said that Voëlklip is seemingly becoming a preferred spot for ending one's own life, not only causing general shock and deep sorrow for loved ones and concern amongst residents of Herold's Bay, but also incurring huge financial cost for the recovery process, where the search and rescue workers face grave danger retrieving the bodies.
Fishermen, sightseers and hikers are also in danger of being hit by a speeding vehicle at the top of the cliff or as it plunges down into the sea. Many informal pathways lead down to the rocks.
Road belongs to DTPW
According to Jandré Bakker, head of communications at the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW), the road is under the jurisdiction of the DTPW as it was proclaimed a provincial road in 1958. The owner of the land therefore has no legal right to close it or make any changes to the road.
"This road provides access to areas of tourism and recreational value. The DTPW attended a meeting facilitated by the George Municipality to discuss options for improving safety on this road; alternatively closing it to the public. Those at the meeting were not in favour of closing the road," he said.
Residents vote against closure
The landowner referred the paper to a member of the Herold's Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association, who told the George Herald that, during a meeting with members of provincial government, the municipality and environmental affairs on 27 January, the residents of Herold's Bay voted to keep the road open.
"We would like to keep it open and along with the owner, we are searching for solutions. As the road is a provincial road the owner bears no responsibility for the safety of the public using it. In the meantime three areas have been identified as hotspots and we are in the process of putting up barriers.
"A request to close the road until the work is completed was refused as the road is a public road.
"We are looking at various other factors for a long-term solution," he said.
According to another source, one of the other options is to have it declared as a marine reserve. However, this process would take some time.
Read previous articles:
- Voëlklip at a crossroads
- Voëlklip claims another life
- Voëlklip: Man's body recovered
- Voëlklip: Another car goes over cliff
- Nog geen finaliteit oor Voëlklip-pad
- Familie en vriende groet Zoe
- Dit is wat in die toekoms by Voëlklip gaan gebeur
- Nog 'n tragedie by Voëlklip
- Gedenkdiens vir ma en kinders
- Touching memorial service for mother and children
- No murder investigated at this stage
- Nooddienste staan saam
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