Margate environmental disaster
"Many questions have been raised as to how Ugu District Municipality handled Monday’s...
The torrential downpour last week has seen the Hazelmere dam rise to 97% as of Tuesday morning – its highest capacity in four years.
The heavens opened last Tuesday evening and kept going well into Wednesday morning, dumping 160mm of rain in one night and more than 220 mm in parts of the Dolphin Coast between Sunday and Wednesday.
After the prolonged drought that had a devastating effect on the region’s agicultural industry, the downpour was a welcomed blessing for cane growers, in particular.
South African Cane Growers Economic Research manager Richard Nicholson said the recent rainfall came just in time for the sugar cane harvesting period in April. Sugar cane grows only on dry land, making it totally dependent on rain water.
“The rain that has fallen during the month of February has been very good for sugar cane farmers. It has fallen in a key growing period for the cane and ensures that there will be good growth before the harvesting period,” he said.
However not all was well, as the downpour caused numerous accidents, as well as the of uprooting trees – one over the N2 near Tinley Manor and another on Colwyn Drive in Sheffield.
KwaDukuza beaches were closed last Wednesday and Thursday due to muddy water in the ocean and a strong rip current. The heavy rain also caused damage to the infrastructure along some of the beaches.
KwaDukuza municipality communications and knowledge officer Sphelelo Ngobese said that the damage to the beach infrastructure was not serious.
“We were able to contain the huge flow of water through our storm water drains. All streams and water courses were flowing way more than usual and the rain water caused the sea to turn from clean to very brown.”
Ngobese said a lot of litter was washed out on the beaches but assured that cleaning teams were attending to the problem.
“High banks like Chaka’s Rock and Sheffield Beach experienced wash aways and mud was deposited onto walkways, which have since been cleared. Part of the concrete path in Thompson’s Bay was damaged and left a large 1,5 metre trench. Side banks collapsed at George Hulett Place in Salt Rock. A new wooden walkway has to be put in. Button’s beach access in Sheffield Beach was also damaged and parts of the concrete need repair. Christmas Bay access at Sheffield had damage to the concrete stairs.”
The damage continued to Seatides, Tongaat when roads opposite the Seatides informal settlement were left covered in mud, causing many cars to bog down.
This is a problem that is faced in the area with even moderate rainfall. eThekweni metro spokesperson Mageu Dlomo said the loose sand from the informal settlement, which is built on a slope, slides onto the road when it rains.
“We are looking at fixing the problem. When this does happen contractors are sent out after hours to remove the sand. We realise that it is an inconvenience and we are looking to find a long term, sustainable solution.”
Also in Tongaat, an attempt to cross a swollen driver turned into a rescue mission. A man tried to cross a low level bridge over the Tongaat River, only to find his car submerged in the water. He was lucky to escape while towing companies worked to recover the vehicle.
Meanwhile in KwaDukuza, a family of four from Monkey Town were seriously injured when the roof of their home came crashing down on them as they slept.