George Municipality is already in the process of finalising signage which will be erected at the start of the railway line hike between Wilderness (Leentjiesklip area) and Victoria Bay.
Cllr Leon van Wyk, Ward Councillor for the area, officials, the police and the Wilderness Residents Ratepayers Association held a meeting last week to discuss the way forward after two attacks on the railway line.
According to Cllr Van Wyk this is the first step in addressing the issue. “We agreed to three phases. In the first immediate phase, signage will be erected both at the Wilderness and Victoria Bay ends of the line. Secondly, an arrangement will be made to patrol the railway line between Wilderness and Victoria Bay on a daily basis. These two phases will be funded from the Ward 4 (Wilderness and surrounds) project funds.
“For the third phase, it is proposed that the opportunity for guided walks be examined, e.g. for an initial two persons to undertake guided walks along the railway line at pre-determined times. The hospitality industry should play a key role in rolling out this project, providing training, etc. This project could be expanded to other walks or hikes. Initial seed capital could be provided out of the Ward 4 funds. With the support of the hospitality industry, this could become a job creation project,” said Cllr Van Wyk.
Cllr Van Wyk said although Transnet would probably regard it as illegal to walk along the line, it remains an important tourist attraction and it would be safer to walk the route in groups. The tourism industry should as a matter of course discuss personal safety with their guests, whether it be with regards to swimming or hiking.
The South African Police Service are determined that the muggers get caught and are working hard to achieve this. However, no amount of patrolling is a guarantee that the perpetrators will be caught because it is a long distance and one can’t be everywhere all of the time. The George Herald has a survey which suggests 24 hour security,” Van Wyk said.
“My approach in December already was that we should turn this into a tourism opportunit. At the monthly meeting with the Wilderness Residents Ratepayers Association in early December 2015, we discussed safety along the Wilderness – Victoria Bay line. I suggested a pro-active approach of providing guides / escorts for groups of persons wishing to walk along the line.
The police were aware of the problem at that stage and were already patrolling. Cllr Van Wyk said police officers continue to regularly patrol the line.