Camps Drift canal de-silted

2011-12-23 00:00

THE Camps Drift canal has finally been de-silted, which not only helps Msunduzi retain its status as a top canoeing centre, but also reduces the risk of flooding.

The task was undertaken by the KwaZulu-Natal Canoeing Union (KZNCU) using a R1 million payment it received from the national lottery.

This was more than a year after the municipality cancelled a R12,8 million tender which it had awarded to a politically-connected contractor, Planet Waves, which failed to complete the job in the requisite time.

The canoe union took just a month to complete the work started by Planet Waves. There was an outcry when the municipality awarded the tender to Planet Waves, owned by former KZN Agriculture Department head Dr Jabulani Mjwara, whose department was mired in allegations of maladministration during his tenure.

Apart from showing that the municipal contract could have been done cheaper and a lot more quickly, the trash dredged up proved an eye-opener.

Dave Still of the canoeing union said the large T&T Marine dredger became a familiar sight at Camps Drift after it moved on the site on November 9. Three weeks was spent preparing the disposal pond and putting their equipment together. Dredging started on December 4 and was completed on December 20.

Still said during that time 10 000m³ of silt was removed at a rate of on average 625 m³/day. Planet Waves, by comparison, worked for over a year and removed an estimated 90 000m³, an average rate of 225m³/day.

Both operations were impeded by the sheer volume of trash in the river. Still said that in the current process silt was pumped to the silt pond, and the trash loaded on a boat and ferried to shore, where it was collected by the Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT).

He added that last night, at the traditional Christmas dice race, paddlers were able to paddle the full course without encountering the energy-sapping mud flats on the bend opposite the clubhouse, which had been in place for years.

When the municipality developed the Camps Drift canal, it recognised that regular de-silting would have to be done every eight or more years as a flood control measure.

Still said that if not kept dredged, Camps Drift would eventually silt up completely and this would increase the chances of flooding of the commercial and industrial properties at Camps Drift. He added that canoeing is an important part of the city’s attraction and that a picture of Duzi paddlers is among the selection of images on the Msunduzi Municipality’s website.

Camps Drift is regularly used for training by some of South Africa’s top paddlers. It is an asset that the city needs to maintain to keep its image as a sporting capital and the home of canoeing, Still said.

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