Durban — There is a tedious, costly monotony with which beaches along the Durban coast are closed as each holiday season approaches.
In the current situation, 11 beaches are closed (at the time of writing) because of high faecal content in the water due to sewage being washed down to the ocean by the rain.
Reports of closed beaches negatively impact the tourism and hospitality industries which depend heavily on the holiday seasons, when upcountry visitors flock to the coast.
To be fair to eThekwini Municipality, it really cannot control the weather.
But, it is in charge of the sewerage and water reticulation infrastructure, much of it in dire need of repair.
The municipality will point to the floods as the cause of the damage, as it should. But that was a year and eight months ago.
Many Durban communities still go without water for days, and sometimes for weeks, as a result of damage sustained in April last year.
That R1.6 billion in disaster grant funding for infrastructure repairs was only recently approved, therefore speaks of monumental failures at both municipal and national levels.
It should not take nearly that long for disaster funding to be approved, especially where water, access to which is a basic human right, is concerned.
“Disaster” implies an emergency, which implies an immediate response.
Not one which comes after 20 months.
Nor should the municipality continue using the rain as a crutch.
Or blaming the media – which would be failing in its duty if it did not inform people of beach closures because of unsafe water conditions, whatever the cause – for reporting the facts.
The seasons and weather are fairly predictable; repairs, upgrades and maintenance should be timed to coincide, and not in high season.
Aside from the potential loss of tourism business, the municipality’s immediate concern should be the welfare of its own citizens suffering from the indignities occasioned by the lack of access to water.
Independent on Saturday