Coast KZN

24 Nov 2022

Willard Beach’s lack of emergency access irks surfers

Juan Venter (North Coast Courier) Picture: File Photo for Illustrative purposes. The lifeguard tower has been completely repainted, with a number of other upgrades included as part of the renovation.

The Ballito surfing community is upset after their beautification efforts at Sable Road (aka ‘Surfer’s Lane’) were slightly damaged when a TLB used the road in order to access Willard Beach two weeks ago. However, the municipality has since committed to restoring the landscaping at Surfer’s Lane, once the work has been completed.

Highlighting the issue, which is understood to be a recurring one for more than 10 years, frustrated Ballito surfer Chris Coates said the reason for the TLB needing access at Surfer’s Lane was because Willard Beach lacked a proper access point for maintenance and emergency vehicles. This, he said, was the result of poor planning when the Willard Beach lifeguard tower was rebuilt some years ago.

The beach parking area and promenade are currently undergoing refurbishing.

Maintenance vehicles have been unable to access the beach through its designated access point because the space between the tower and surrounding northern wall cannot accommodate vehicles that large.

Coates said he had submitted plans to the municipality to remedy the situation in 2020, but municipal spokesperson Sipho Mkhize said the municipality had no knowledge of such a plan being submitted at the time.

Two weeks ago a municipal contractor was prevented from accessing the beach by local surfers who feared damage to the site of the beautification project that they had funded.

Mkhize said on the day work was to start at the beach, Coates and his friends verbally abused the contractor, threatening to damage his equipment. Coates denies this.

Coates was told the municipality would look at the possibility of his request and that a meeting would be held to discuss the problem. Mkhize said Coates instead wanted an undertaking from the municipality that any damage caused be repaired, while also demanding the municipality admit to the existing problem of a lack of appropriate access facilities at Willard Beach.

Mkhize said formal studies were required before the municipality could simply commit to effecting Coates’ proposal.

A day later, the contractor returned, and while gaining access to the beach via Surfer’s Lane did cause some damage.

While work continues at the beach, Mkhize noted that a municipal representative had undertaken to reinstate landscaping at Surfer’s Lane once the work had been completed.

Mkhize said Surfer’s Lane remained municipal property which therefore does not require the involvement of or consultation with any other person or party for it to be used by the municipality.

“The municipality maintains all assets as and when the need arises.”