Beach sand pumping.Picture Zanele Zulu.23/02/2016

Durban - Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) is due to commence dredging and beach nourishment in Durban as soon as certification is issued by the South African Maritime Safety Authority to the new Ilembe dredging vessel.

A pipeline from the harbour mouth pump station, buried under the sea sand, has already been set up on Addington Beach.

eThekwini Municipality requires TNPA to provide 500 000 cubic metres of sand annually to reinstate the city’s beaches situated north of the channel mouth, due to the natural migration of sand along the coast, said Moshe Motlohi, TNPA’s Port of Durban Manager.

“Dredging is responsible for sustaining Durban’s famous beaches because the prevailing winds and currents cause a northward movement of sand (known as Littoral drift),” Motlohi explained.

“In order to prevent this sand from compromising the port’s entrance channels, dredging creates sand-traps and pumps the sand back to the northern side to mimic the sand’s natural progression.

This allows for nourishment of the beaches. Without this, the beach would be eroded.”

The Ilembe dredger will be tasked with reclaiming 150 000 cubic meters of sand during the upcoming dredging campaign.

Motlohi said the duration of the sand pumping would depend on a number of factors, including weather conditions.

The Ilembe, which will be undertaking this work, arrived at the Port of Durban in January after being built for TNPA in the Netherlands.

Motlohi said thereafter the Ilembe was scheduled to be deployed to East London.

Motlohi said the eThekwini Municipality was responsible for the safety of the public on the beaches during reclamation.

However, when the Daily News visited the site on the beach, an excavator was busy churning up the sand.

A huge, crater-sized hole filled with water was underneath the mouth of the pipe.

Caution tape flapped in the wind, barely visible, with a sign saying ‘beach closed’ on either end.

There were no signs on the promenade warning the public of possible dangers.

The eThekwini municipality had not responded to questions from the Daily News by publication deadline.