Dusi race gets councillor’s nod

2013-12-27 00:00

THE Natal Canoe Club and Sobantu councillor Thandi Matiwane have made peace, ending fears of disruptions to the world famous 2014 Dusi canoe race.

Matiwane had the race organisers worried when she said that residents were threatening to disrupt the Dusi Marathon to get the municipality to re-build the low-lying Woodhouse Road bridge.

This was after five people survived a near-fatal accident on December 15, when their car was swept off the bridge. Drownings at the site are a regular occurrence and there have been repeated calls for the bridge to be raised. Less than a month ago, Lihridayle Mthiyane drowned when his car was swept away.

The Natal Canoe Club (NCC) invited Matiwane to a meeting to discuss the threatened disruption and to showcase the club’s development work with children.

Matiwane explained that residents felt that water releases for canoeing events, to allow paddlers to pass over the bridge and thus avoid the danger of being trapped underneath it, are to blame for some of the problems.

NCC general manager Brett Austen-Smith explained that when races take place and water is released, fencing is put up and security guards are posted on either side of the bridge.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the club and the councillor said that plans are afoot for Matiwane and Austen-Smith to address the Sobantu community in January, before February’s Dusi Canoe Marathon. This was to help the community understand the role of canoeing and the water level at the low-level bridge.

Matiwane also expressed her delight at the canoeing development programme, headed up by Thuthu ­Manyathi and Sam Phungula. More than 1 600 young paddlers have been introduced to canoeing since April, many of whom are from Sobantu. The programme is funded by the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation.

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