eThekwini cleans up again, even stranded beach sleepers

2014-01-03 00:00

DURBAN cemented itself as a premier South African holiday destination this festive season with two almost problem-free weeks characterised by high security visibility and rapid cleaning services.

Within 12 hours of nearly 500 000 people having flocked to Durban’s Golden Mile for the annual New Year’s Day pilgrimage, the beach promenade was near spotless and open for business.

This feat, according to eThekwini Metro mayor James Nxumalo, was the result of a the city’s festive management plan being implemented successfully.

In a statement released yesterday Nxumalo said there had been a “dramatic increase” of visitors to the city’s beaches.

He said police visibility, volunteers, security, and surveillance cameras saw more than 460 000 people enjoying New Year’s Day at the various local beaches while about 35 000 people attended the New Year’s picnic at Umgababa beach.

The city’s Festive Season Management Committee (Fesmac) said the organic plan had been developed over several years, with deficiencies plugged and concepts altered to deal with the uniqueness of the city’s festive make-up.

Christo Swart, chair of Fesmac, said each unit within the municipality — including traffic, parks and waste removal and external services such as the SAPS and paramedic services — had worked towards the goal of making the city safe.

“We met three months prior to the festive season. We took the 2012/13 debrief document and looked at where we could improve.

“Once the season commenced we met every two days assessing the two days past. From these meetings we were able to make alterations to our management process.

“We communicated throughout the holiday with the public and the media. All city events were recorded and each event was inspected before it happened to make sure they had all the required permissions,” said Swart.

He said examples of the changing nature of managing the festive season arose on December 16, when over 150 000 people took to Durban’s Golden Mile, and city officials found large numbers of people sleeping on the beach as no return transport was available.

“By December 26 we wanted to avoid this type situation as it is a safety and health concern so we arranged four buses to take people who were stranded to the areas in which they reside,” said Swart.

He said beach clean-up operations started before 7 am every morning while the city continued to educate holidaymakers about recycling.

KZN Health Department Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Robert McKenzie said the majority of medical emergencies they responded to were traffic related.

“Our teams in Durban, Pietermaritzburg and the South Coast reported a higher than normal number of assaults and stabbings over New Year’s Eve however no one has been reported as fatally wounded,” he said.

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