Mayor ensures Durban beachfront has more pull
Durban - ETHEKWINI mayor Mxolisi Kaunda discovered there was no free ride when taking a rickshaw as part of his walkabout to promote the Durban beachfront’s readiness for the Easter holidays.
As rickshaw puller Simon Sibiya sanitised his vehicle, Kaunda was proud of the condition of the beachfront. “We are the warmest, greenest city in the world, and are doing everything to ensure your safety is guaranteed. We’re asking people to rediscover Durban. We have a lot to offer with leisure facilities of international standard,” he said.
The short trip to North Pier still cost him R50, although he was happy to offer Sibiya a “100% bonus”.
The mayor also chatted to surprised cyclists he stopped on the promenade, and diners relaxing in Circus Circus on North Beach.
On the tour, Kaunda asked everyone using Durban’s beachfront to respect Covid-19 protocols. “Wear a mask on the promenade and in the bathrooms,” he insisted.
The police and metro will be out in force. But so will a number of beach officers to assist with Covid protocols.
“Access to beaches will be controlled should they become too crowded and beach officers will persuade people to keep social distancing. We want people to enjoy their holidays. But we want them to be safe. We ask that you be your own conscience, your own police officer and do the right thing to keep others safe,” Kaunda said.
The City also announced a R33 million investment to maintain Durban’s beachfront.
“We have invested millions to ensure that we have world class recreational facilities for people to enjoy when they visit,” Kaunda said.
Wayne Bachmann of Servest, which has been awarded the three-year contract, said about 100 staff, all dressed in bright yellow shirts and sun hats, would help uplift the beachfront, removing sand, replanting grass and dead palm trees, fixing fencing and generally renewing the beachfront, section by section. “We want to make the beachfront a better place for everyone,” he said.
Kaunda said the initiative would ensure that Durban beaches maintained their Blue Flag status.
Also part of maintaining the Blue Flag status, Durban is offering beach access to disabled people. While ramps and disabled toilets ensure full access to the promenade, access to the beach and the sea is now possible. Kaunda unveiled two specially designed buggies in which lifeguards can wheel a disabled person into the sea. In addition, strips of blue matting allow wheelchair access to the high water mark.
Head of Parks Tembinkosi Ngcobo said the three-wheel buggies were free of charge and all one had to do was ask lifeguards to take them into the water.
Ngcobo said the City had spent three years looking for the right system to allow disabled access into the sea. “Two more buggies are on the way. This is part of a programme to allow everybody access to the beach,” he said. “Our lifeguards have been trained and it's a service available to everybody.”
While perhaps not the bumper Easter season from pre-Covid-19 times, Kaunda was upbeat about the figures. He said hotel occupancy rates over Easter were projected to be about 55% with 42 000 visitors expected and a direct spend of R61 million. “It is expected that there would be a R151 million contribution to our GDP with 325 employment opportunities created over the Easter weekend,” he said.
About 170 lifeguards, 25 law enforcement officers, 18 safety protection officers and 34 beach guards will be on duty on South, Central, Bluff and North beaches. Lifeguards will be on duty from 6am to 6pm and toilets open from 6am to 8pm. Toilets will be sanitised every 3 hours. Security and beach cleaning services will be available for 24 hours.
“Durban is ready and open for business,” Kaunda said. “We encourage visitors to come to our city and enjoy their holidays within the confines of Covid-19 protocols.”
The Independent on Saturday