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Crash in canal causes major disaster

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A PLANNED AND STAGED DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT EXERCISE

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Date 23 October 2020

What started out as a typical, quiet Friday in Century City, turned into a major accident scene.

On 23 October, Sipho Dlamini, was driving the aquatic weed harvester used to trim the water plants in the canals. “It was just like any other day, a morning on the water performing maintenance on the canals when it took a sudden turn for the worst.  I was working on the Grand Canal behind Canal Walk Shopping Centre when the Intaka Island ferry started veering towards me.  Before I could react, two canoeists came out of nowhere, and we all met with a big bang!”

The Intaka Island ferry, harvester and the canoes collided, capsizing six people into the canal.  To add to the drama, the ferry suddenly burst into flames.

Dlamini continues “The crash gave me such a fright, but I remained calm and immediately contacted the Century City Security Operational Centre on 021-202 1000 to report the incident. Within minutes, teams of rescuers were on the scene.”

“As soon as Mr Dlamini contacted us, we focused our CCTV cameras on the incident and contacted City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management, Fire and Rescue, Milnerton SAPS, City Traffic, Canal Walk firefighting Team and Metro Ambulance Services,” says Marinus Boshoff, Safety and Security Manager for the Century City Property Owners' Association. “Our own CCPOA first responders were immediately dispatched to the scene.  Our first priorities were to assist the people in the water and fight the fire.”

Both CCPOA and Canal Walk Firefighting Teams managed to kill the flames quickly. Some of the passengers swam to the side of the canal, while members of the rescue team attend to others.  

Fortunately, the entire “accident” was a simulation, and no real fire or injuries occurred. It was all part of an annual joint training exercise by Century City Safety and Security and the various emergency response teams to test and evaluate the operational readiness of security and emergency response personnel.

“Even though this was just a drill, it is important that we remain vigilant. A disaster can occur in the blink of an eye and whether it’s a motor vehicle accident, building fire or an incident on the canals, we need to be ready for any and all types of scenarios in Century City.” says Boshoff.