The residents of Cardinal Road, Stonebridge, Phoenix are up in arms over the illegal closure of a public road after a wire fence was put up to prevent them from utilising it, last week.

Irate residents held a protest on Wednesday, 3 April, demanding the fence to be removed as they use the road as an easier access route to the Phoenix Highway. Community activist, Rashina Singh who led the protest said, “These residents have illegally fenced off a designated road reserved on the map from Cardinal Road inter leading to the main road on the Phoenix Highway. According to the eThekwini Municipality Department of Roads, this is an illegal act of infringement of the public areas act. The closure of the road is causing a lot of problems as the community is now forced to walk on the side of the road which is treacherous.”

She said the community has been using this road for many years and suddenly someone deems it fit to fence it off without public consultation. “The closure of this road leads to social division, dysfunctional cities and lead further to polarisation of our society. Is this the rich society verses the poor community of Phoenix or is this road only to serve the five families respectively? Upon approaching the offending resident, Omar Sheik, he was arrogant and rude. He said if I wanted to use the road I must go around the fence and also challenged me by stating that he will see what I can do to stop him. Last week the law enforcement officer from DSW caught him dumping and came to his premises to give him a fine, yet he states that there is a lot of dumping taking place on the road,” said Singh.

According to the chairperson of Stonebridge Rates Payers Association, Robert Beharilall, “The closure impacts negatively on urban mobility and functionality and militates against the original idea of an access route.” Beharilall stressed on the freedom of movement adding that the closure of the road serves as a deterrent. Councillor Roy Moodley of Mosa said he was approached by the community of Stonebridge, Clayfield and surrounding areas regarding five residents of Cardinal Road and Longbridge Walk who illegally fenced off a public road, that has served the community for 35 years. “The road is used daily by scholars that attend the nearby high school as well as residents of the Stonebridge area who use it as an access route when going to work.

“This road leads to Phoenix Highway and there’s taxi and bus lay-byes whereby members of the community do their shopping and get off at the taxi stop and use this road to go to their homes. This closure is illegal. The community members are avid rate payers, and who are these people to close off a government road. A letter has also been sent to the Metro Police for their urgent intervention regarding the matter on hand,” added Moodley.

Speaking to The Phoenix Tabloid, Omar Sheik, also known as Iqbal said, “Myself and a few other neighbours decided to put up the fence in an effort to neaten up this area which has been neglected for the last 10 years. In the past, we’ve had many incidents of elderly people being robbed and attacked after collecting their pension on this very same road. There was a huge mess throughout the road, where overgrown trees were falling onto our yards and rubble which we’ve now cleared.”
Comment from the municipality was still forthcoming at the time of going to print.