Revamp causes havoc

Woodbridge residents say the cloud of dust coming from the school feels like a desert sand storm.

Woodbridge Island residents are demanding answers from a school they blame for swamping their homes in dust and sand.

According to Western Cape Education Department spokeswoman Bronagh Hammond, Woodbridge Primary School raised money to rehabilitate its drought-ravaged field because it had been in such a poor state pupils had been unable to use it.

“The school was advised that this time of the year was the best time to re-lay the field. However, they did not foresee the effects of the renovation on the neighbouring community,” she said.

Ken Hughes, 76, said as much as he understood the school needed to do the work, he didn’t understand why it had to be done at this time of year. “The dust from the grading of the school field has been constantly blowing across the R27 for well over a week now and has been falling all over the houses in the esplanade area.

“No warnings were given. What about any people suffering from asthma, for example? Also, who was responsible for choosing such a crazy time to do this work in the middle of summer, in the middle of a drought, when the wind is blowing almost gale force as most Capetonians know at this time of the year?”

Mr Hughes said dust and sand blowing across the R27 blanketed his and his neighbours’ yards.

It had also gone into his pool – getting around the pool cover – and he had had to drain it and refill it, he said. As a result he had lost a lot of the water he had collected over winter in his three rain tanks.

Terry Shaw lives in Dune Road, opposite Woodbridge Primary, across the R27. It seems the road has been living up to its name with help from sand blown in from the school, and Mr Shaw said he had had to tape up his window panes to keep dust out of his house.

“About a week ago, I was driving from Table View when all of a sudden I saw the car in front of me screeching to a halt.

“I then realised a cloud of dust was coming our way and, in seconds, we were in the cloud and we couldn’t see in front of us.

“I really think that this operation the school is doing is posing a real danger to motorists,” he said.

Mr Shaw added that his wife and daughter have existing chest and breathing problems and fears the dust my make this worse.

Ms Hammond said the school was sorry for the inconvenience caused to its neighbours. However, it was the first time the field had been rehabilitated to this extent and the effects could not have been anticipated.

“The excavation is complete and the levelling is due to happen this week with the laying of grass next week,” she said.

The work would benefit the pupils for many years to come, she added.