Coast KZN

29 Dec 2017

ISSUES AT STAKE: Beach driving calamities – blame Kenny Rogers

Dave Savides (Zululand Observer) Picture: Dave Savides


‘Tis the season to be jolly…and for holiday folly. DAVE SAVIDES examines the great 4×4 debate

SOME years ago I was watching a TV documentary sharing some beautiful, out-of-the-way destinations for those who want to take the road less travelled.

They showed this wonderful rural scene: the great outdoors where the air is fresh, the grass is green, the water is sparkling and – unlike in the city – you can’t see what you are breathing.

The presenter cautioned though: ‘The route is very difficult to traverse; the road is a mere track, and you can only get there by 4×4 or company vehicle.’

A very humourous way to introduce today’s topic of 4x4s, a flood of which bearing GP and other foreign registrations has descended on our coast, seeking places where the owners can demonstrate their driving skills… or lack thereof.

In the good old days, they would have headed for the beaches like the D-day troops at Normandy.

The major difference being, the Allied invasion fleet comprised amphibious vehicles and those in the driver seats had done plenty of planning and analysis of the terrain.

Sadly, this week’s arrivals have not, and their vehicles are distinctly not designed to operate in water, as we have once again witnessed at the Bay Hall area, where year after year towing vehicles come to the rescue of SUVs stranded in the sand on the incoming tide – an expensive lesson into the ‘do-nots’ of beach driving and the making of submarines.

Of course, the never-ending, great 4×4 beach driving debate is revived at this time of year, with government determined to keep our pristine coastline protected from those vehicles, especially quad bikes that rip apart the beaches, turtle nests, ghost crabs and all creatures that dwell in sandy places.

Not that we have any beautiful coastline beach areas left, thanks to global warming, rising oceans and slumping dunes.

It is now a mass of rocks, fallen trees and unsightly debris… soon to be augmented by chunks of a falling lighthouse.

Nature appears to be taking the part of conservationists, as there are no longer any ramps left for beach access in any case, having been gobbled up by the incoming storm surges.

On the other side of the 4×4 debate, tourist destinations such as St Lucia again bemoan the fact they are losing business because of the ban.

So we have this situation where the goal of most Gautengers is to own one of those super powerful 4×4 SUVs, but driving them in Sandton gives little pleasure. In fact, they resort to buying ‘mud’ decals so they look as though they have driven the wild bush or beach.

I blame it on Kenny Rogers.

While the rest of America was into disco and the likes of the Bee Gees, thanks to his country music influence he had people in the central New York business district wearing Stetsons, jeans and cowboy boots – despite the fact they had neither cattle to round up nor horses to corral.

Similarly, our Gauteng brethren should not be improperly influenced by what we do at the coast.

Shop for something more place-appropriate at the car dealerships, like a Porsche or Ferrari.

Preferably something with a good anti-theft system.