Beach damage may damp festivities

2014-12-15 00:00

AS schools around the country close, tourists descend on Durban’s ravaged beaches.

But sandy beaches aren’t necessarily what they will find.

The beaches have not yet been cleaned after they were damaged by a spate of inclement weather.

Maintenance of the city’s coastline falls under the department of engineering, storm water and catchment management, which uses a series of pumps to distribute sand and reclaim beach space.

The department’s Godfrey Vella said beaches were expected to stay the same until April.

“The hopper which was expected to come into use in the beginning of the new month will now only be ready by the end of April,” he said.

The hopper distributes sand from one part of the beach to another and is currently under construction.

Vella said during this time the beaches would have to rely on sand migration from the southern beaches up to the north.

“We are hoping we do not have heavy seas that cost infrastructure on the beach,” he said.

He said there was sufficient sand on Ushaka beaches where sand had been pumped until two weeks ago.

Phillip Sithole from Durban Tourism said over 200 000 people were expected to descend on Durban’s beaches.

He said only some parts of the beach were damaged, but the rest was accessible to the public.

“Just a certain portion of the beach was damaged; however, people can be accommodated on the rest of the beaches,” he said.

Apollo Mncwango, who has been taking pictures of beach goers on the Goldern Mile for the past 10 years, said due to sand depletion, business would be slow this year.

“Because there is less sand less people will be coming to the Golden Mile stretch of the beach,” he said.

Fortunate Nkabane from Pietermaritzburg said her family visit Durban once a year just to spend time at the beach.

“We have noticed how damaged the beaches are this year. There are pipes, rocks and concrete exposed,” she said.

Nkabane said there were too many people in the bathing area of the beach to fully enjoy herself.

Fataki Djuma, who manages Debonairs on North Beach, said he expected more customers.

“Business has not yet picked up and it might be because people do not want to visit the beach because there is less space for people to swim,” he said.

eThekwini head of communications Tozi Mthethwa said Durban bay was not a natural beach and the sand pumping operation has been critical for the establishment and maintenance of a beach zone.

“The sand pumping operation is a joint exercise between the City and Transnet and is done via the Transnet dredger. It is only permitted to supply sand removed from the approved sand trap to the beach,” she said.

She said the damage was limited to a few locations and the city has already attended to the most urgent aspects ahead of the Festive Season.

“While full rehabilitation work to the sea wall is only possible in the new year, the areas which present an operational risk over the festive season will be cordoned off to restrict [beach users’ access],” she said.

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