Sand pumping closes beach, costs businesses
Photo Credit: Marilyn Bernard
"Business owners say the temporary closure of one of Durban’s best family beaches over this mid-year holiday period is hurting their businesses."
The owners of businesses in the Addington Beach area said they understood the importance of the sand-pumping process taking place, but the timing was hitting them where it hurt.
Expression On The Beach owner Brandon Read said the new beach hub was a place where families brought their children to play and swim.
“It’s a safe beach with good lifesaving facilities. We hire out all the toys you can use to play on the ocean. I understand that if you do not pump sand back into the beach, the sea will eventually end up on the road,” he said.
“But doing it the way they have done it, they actually killed our businesses.
“This has been going on since the weekend of the Comrades Marathon. So they chose one of the busiest weekends of the year to come and do this. It has to be done, but not like this.”
Read also said they were never consulted.
The eThekwini communications head, Tozi Mthethwa, said the municipality did not own the dredger used to pump the sand and could not control the times when dredging could take place.
“The dredger being used by the city to pump sand belongs to Transnet and is shared with other municipalities. Therefore the sand-pumping schedule is subject to the availability of the dredger,” she said.
“The sand pumping will be completed in the next two weeks. However, sand pumping in the bathing area is almost complete, as it is vital that this process does not affect the city’s tourism.”
Samantha Small-Shaw, who owns Surf Riders Restaurant, said their business was affected. “People cannot swim so they don’t come for food afterwards.”
She said they were already losing a lot of money.
Roxy Learn 2 Surf owner Allan Wallace said the timing was unfortunate.
“This is peak season. July holidays are the best time of the year to be in Durban. The families booked in the hotels come across to find the beach closed.
“They should try to get the timing right,” he said.
Wallace said while his business was still up and riding, it had dropped off.
Shaun Sellman, also of Learn 2 Surf, said beach users were now walking past them to the other beaches.
“It’s holiday season now which is our busy time. In August it is a windy period in which we can hardly teach.
“On a good day I can have 20 to 30 people, but today I have had just four,” he said.
Johnny Vassilaros, chairman of Save Vetch’s Association and the Durban Paddle Ski Club, has previously complained about sand pumping at nearby Vetch’s Beach, which he said was highly destructive.
“It’s a complex problem, but if there was a will to resolve it, it is actually fairly easy.”
Vassilaros said he had previously asked the eThekwini environmental department to consult on this process by advising the coastal engineering department “to go about replenishing (the sand on) our beaches responsibly, without causing the damage they have been doing for so many years”.
He added that an official had been appointed and he had had a meeting with him, but in the end, nothing had happened.