Coast KZN

20 Apr 2018

LOOK: Sand erosion threatens Durban’s North Beach lifeguard tower

ZAINUL DAWOOD (DAILY NEWS) Picture: Durban surfer Mike Frew shows how sand erosion has undermined the North Beach lifeguard tower. The platform leads to the lifeguard tower entrance. The sand was once level with the platform. Picture: Dawn Rouse.

Durban – The North Beach lifeguard tower is under threat of collapsing if the eThekwini Municipality does not intervene to replenish the sand lost to erosion.

The municipality and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) are desperately waiting for the Transnet hopper station (a sand transfer station/or sand pump station) to be put through its final testing, but this could take months.

Surfer Mike Frew said the tower was undermined by the tides. The concrete platform to the entrance is suspended in mid-air with no support structure underneath.

He said the platform would collapse in a matter of days and he was concerned for the safety of the lifeguards.

A city official, who cannot be named, said that portion of the popular beach would be closed for bathing if the lifeguards were removed.

“The amount of sand lost on the beachfront is huge,” Frew said, pointing to a five-high stack of sandbags placed below the promenade. The bags were there to prevent water from eroding the promenade further. Some bags were collapsing.

“Six weeks ago, I complained about the safety of bathers and visitors. All they have done is put up fencing near the site.

“The high tides are eating into the foundation of the building. The underground electrical wiring is exposed,” Frew said.

The municipality put up shade cloth held up by wooden poles placed in concrete refuse bins along the eroded section.

Frew said the millions of rand spent on landscaping and palm trees for the 2010 World Cup were wasted.

Community activist Satish Dhupelia said the city had promised to attend to the erosion two weeks ago.

“Work has not started. The pier has railings missing, which renders it unsafe. This was once known as the Golden Mile. People flock here. The paving on the promenade cost taxpayers millions. Soon it will be washed away,” he said.

Tozi Mthethwa, the eThekwini Municipality’s spokesperson, said sand reclamation through the sand pumping scheme was dependent on Transnet’s hopper station.

“The previous hopper station was owned and operated by the city. The harbour widening resulted in the city’s hopper being demolished and replaced by a hopper built and operated by Transnet,” Mthethwa said.

Transnet National Ports Authority said it provided a minimum of 250 000 cubic metres of sand a year to the city’s beaches. It confirmed that the final performance testing for the hopper was under way.