DA leads Umhlanga residents in march against proposed tidal pool

2012-11-29 00:00

UMHLANGA residents and about 100 DA supporters took to the streets yesterday to protest a proposed R27 million tidal pool destined for the town’s main beach.

Most of the marchers arrived by bus from informal settlements and surrounding communities to voice their concerns about what has been termed a wasteful development.

Locals are worried about the potential impact on the community, the ecological consequences and likely parking chaos.

But eThekwini municipality, which is funding the project, remains firmly in favour.

Spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said the march was “premature given the fact that public consultation processes were still under way and assessments still needed to be finalised”.

According to the city, the pool would alleviate chronic beach erosion and provide a safe swimming area for the elderly and smaller children on a beach that allegedly has one of the “highest rescue rates and unfavourable bathing conditions on the eThekwini coast”.

“It will provide a permanent recreational beach behind the tidal pool and so cater for the tourist demand even after storm events when the other adjacent beaches are narrow, or have been eroded away,” Mofokeng said in an e-mail. The pool, he added, would be maintained by the eThekwini parks and recreations department.

But residents remain sceptical and complain that a broken sewerage pipe that has fouled the area has not been fixed.

Protesters felt that the money would be better spent on people who had no homes and were living elsewhere in squalid conditions.

Silindile Mdluli, a resident of Umbayi informal settlement in Tongaat, said she was upset the city was spending so much on a tidal pool. “We need more houses and running water. Our informal settlement is messy and it looks like pigs are staying there,” she said.

Lucky Mshengu, provincial manager of operations in the DA, said the pool would continue to benefit the elite.

“It will triple the value of the area and there is no need for that because the majority of the people will not have access to it. Rather put it in a place where people can use it. What more can you do with this area? There are already billionaires who own units here and it has limited access,” he said.

Wayne Coetzer, general manager of the exclusive Oyster Box hotel, which would overlook the tidal pool, has been lobbying for proper consultation and transparency on where the tenders for the works are going.

He noted that more could be done with the money, such as upgrading the lifesaving facilities, saving the oyster and mussel beds, and rock pools, which act as important hatcheries for many species of fish.

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