Sands of time running out
Lack of machinery might see Durban unable to pump enough sand for its beaches in time for the holidays
IMAGINE a beach without sand. Well, if Durban can’t pump enough of it on to the beaches, that is what may happen this holiday season.
The process falls under the city’s coastal engineering department. It keeps the beach looking good and prevents the waves from crashing onto the promenade.
However, the city’s sand-pumping infrastructure has either been demolished (in 2007) or the machines that remain are out of order.
Earlier this year, the city undertook the mammoth task of replenishing the central beaches with sand via an offshore pipeline connected to a Transnet dredger. It cost millions of rand and was criticised for not being a long-term solution.
Marine experts and activists believe it would be better to fix broken infrastructure or buy new machines to do the job.
City Watch has reliably learnt that the city has not been pumping sand onto the beaches for the past three months as the Transnet dredgers that are used have been out of service due to maintenance issues.
City spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela confirmed that the pumping operation had stopped but said there were plans to resume for the rest of this month. It would then stop during the festive season.
“The sand-pumping operations are not continuous throughout the year and are dependent on the availability of the Transnet dredgers and their port maintenance schedule.
“We are not pumping sand, but the dredger is about to recommence dredging operations in Durban.
“One of the dredgers is already in Durban, but the two Transnet dredgers service various parts of the country,” said Mayisela.
Johnny Vassilaros, of the Save Vetch’s Association, warned that the current system was dysfunctional and expensive for ratepayers.
“The problem they (the city) face is that as opposed to the old days, when Durban had its own dredger and would provide sand at will, we are now sharing one dredger across the country. So we go for months without the use of a dredger and no sand.
“When the dredger is in town for a short period, the city takes as much sand as it can. But as they are unable to pump further than Addington, they have been dumping it all at Vetch’s and hoping the littoral drift would transport it to the central and northern beaches, where the sand is actually needed.
“They did this for the past 10 years, achieving very little,” said Vassilaros.
Mayisela said despite the delays in sand pumping, beaches were generally in good condition and the proposed sand pumping would suffice for the December holiday period.
DURBAN may be the city of sand and surf but ever increasingly, there is more surf than sand. It is expected to impact the festive season fun.
DURBAN Tourism has launched new ricksha buses that will ferry tourists in and around the city. |