High traffic volumes at the Marrianhill Toll Plaza in Durban. Picture: Twitter
High traffic volumes at the Marrianhill Toll Plaza in Durban. Picture: Twitter
A Metro Police officer arrests motorists at a roadblock. Picture: Supplied
A Metro Police officer arrests motorists at a roadblock. Picture: Supplied
Durban - Durban’s festive season has officially kicked off, and with the city teeming with tourists, authorities are out in force to maintain law and order - both on the roads and on the beaches.

On Friday, eThekwini metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Parbhoo Sewpersad said with an increased police presence, holidaymakers and residents should be aware of the clampdown on the enforcement of by-laws.

Police put up a roadblock in the CBD on Friday, identifying those with outstanding fines and warrants.

“Any municipal by-law that you had contravened, and a summons was issued, will be checked.

“This applies to traffic fines, or building by-law fines, or fines for drinking in public, we will pick this up,” said Sewpersad.

And, for out of town holidaymakers, if you were issued with a fine even last year for any by-law transgression, you could be caught this year in a roadblock, we urge everyone to check if they have any outstanding fines,” he said.

At the roadblock, several drivers were pulled over and placed in an awaiting police van for outstanding warrants under their names.

More than R10 000 was paid on the spot, by card machine, by those who wanted to sort their fines out.

“We are adopting a zero tolerance approach. Remember, if you are caught this weekend, you could be detained until Tuesday, as Monday is a public holiday,” he said.

Holiday season traffic poured into Durban on Friday with numbers peaking at around 2000 at the Marianhill Toll Plaza on the N3 freeway at around 2pm.

Despite the cautions by authorities, the city was ready to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors, said mayor Zandile Gumede.

“We have added 400 more police officers who have been trained to work during the festive season. We have also recruited more private security officials. Children will be issued with identification armbands.

“Our lifeguards will also be working later than normal, as we cannot turn a blind eye that many people want to come to the beach in the evening, but we urge people to not swim at night,” she said.

The city said that more than 700 security personnel would be deployed to the Durban beaches, with 430 being metro police trainees and 341 security guards.

Urban Improvement Precinct chairperson for South Beach, North East Business District and CBD, Ebrahim Vadachia welcomed the mayor’s announcement of additional personnel over the festive season.

“We have had a number of meetings with the beachfront security cluster, and we welcome the move. It’s definitely going to be a good season compared to last season. All the different departments have come together, and we are feeling confident it’s going to be a good season,” said Vadachia.

Palesa Phili, chief executive officer of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said she expected that this festive season would be busier than last year, with millions of domestic and international visitors expected, and millions more to be spent in the local economy.

A drop in fuel price and the low chance of load shedding was also adding to the festive spirit.

“Based on previous seasons, the city expects 1.1million people to set foot in Durban. This will ultimately have a positive knock-on effect on the city’s economy through direct and indirect spend.

“The chamber remains optimistic about the economic prospects of this period, especially for the tourism and hospitality sector, and their resultant value chain,” said Phili.

Fedhasa operations director, Charles Preece, also said the move to keep the beach areas clean are welcomed. “It’s great news while clamping down on the by-laws is also a good idea,” he said.

uMhlanga Tourism head, Peter Rose, however, was not as optimistic in the festive season stakes, citing lower accommodation occupancy rates as an indication that people were not coming to uMhlanga.

“Hotels are reporting an 80% occupancy rate, which is lower than last year. Some of the reasons, we believe, are the unsightly unfinished buildings right in the centre of uMhlanga, which has a knock on effect on parking, as well as people turning to unregistered accommodation offerings such as those listed as AirBnB venues,” said Rose.

“With schools returning early in January, we are seeing many people cut their holiday short, resulting in overall less spend this festive season.”

To find out if you have outstanding fines, call 0313112995 or 0313112853/4.

Independent On Saturday