Coast KZN

03 May 2018

How Durban’s beach sand is being replenished

ZAINUL DAWOOD (DAILY NEWS) Picture: Engineers from the eThekwini Municipality and a private contractor are replenishing the sand at North Beach. Sand has been filled around the lifeguard tower, which was severely undermined by erosion, leaving its platform suspended in mid-air. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban – The sand replenishment process has now shifted to another portion of North Beach as front-end pay-loaders and excavators moved sand to the level of the promenade.
On Wednesday,  a section of a pipe was fastened to one of the excavators and hoisted up. Onlookers thought the pipe was damaged. The Daily News has since learnt that engineers from the contractor, Subtech Group, had disconnected the pipe leading from the ocean to a T-piece elbow on the seashore.

Engineers were seen connecting a nozzle to one end of the 600mm diameter pipe that was going out to sea. The pipe was then pumped with air, allowing it to become buoyant.

Once this was achieved, the team carefully directed the pipe on to the other half of the beach. The pipe would be connected to the elbow on shore and the process of sand pumping would continue.

The lifeguard tower was recently undermined by erosion. The platform around the tower and a nearby old pump station were suspended in mid-air. Sand now surrounds the tower.

One of three shower areas had collapsed. The poles on the public announcement system were destroyed and several palm trees washed away during the erosion. The Ilembe, a Transnet dredger ship, was on standby while the pipes were being reconnected. Four buoys marked the area where the pipe connected with the dredger ship. A ship and a boat were nearby with divers on board.

Fiona Scott-Berning, Subtech spokesperson, said all media-related issues were to be directed to the eThekwini Municipality.

Mandla Nsele, eThekwini’s spokesperson, said this was an emergency joint operation between the city and Transnet. North, Dairy, Country Club and Battery beaches remain closed.

The city website stated that between 1851 and 1926, with the gradual development of Durban Harbour, the channel was dredged deeper and deeper.

To prevent the entrance from being blocked, a large sand trap area was created just south of the harbour mouth to collect sand moved northwards with the current, and two harbour mouth piers were constructed to deflect the drift away.

Thus the supply of sand into the Durban “bight” (main beachfront area) was interrupted and erosion began.