Durban dunes ‘reshape’ costs R400k
Durban - Two years after revamping the beachfront, the eThekwini Municipality is spending another R400 000 to “reshape” parts of the Golden Mile, mainly to lower the height of newly established sand dunes.
Mike Andrews, deputy head of the strategic projects unit, said the reshaping project would affect a 400-metre section of dunes north of Bell Street, and the re-establishment of the dune vegetation should be complete before Christmas.
Responding to e-mail questions from Durban resident John Lansley, who asked why bulldozers were now digging into dunes in the section between Addington Hospital and uShaka Pier, Andrews said the original project had been designed in 2008/09.
However, shortly before work started in 2009/10, a sister municipal department was given authority to replenish the beach sand and pumped nearly 500m³ of sand on to uShaka and South beaches.
“As you can imagine, this resulted in significant changes to the beach profile in these areas, as well as in the beach access boardwalks and dunes… rising substantially higher than the promenade,” Andrews said.
This had affected the height design of the dune zone, views of the beach and the plan to allow stormwater run-off to disperse into the dunes.
“You would also have noted that this resulted in shower water stagnating in the vicinity of the beach access points. This is not only unsightly, but unhygienic.”
The current project was intended to rectify these problems, Andrews said, as well as to improve visibility of the beach and the security of beachgoers.
Andrews said the re-establishment of dunes on the beachfront would help to protect infrastructure from wave surges and reduce wind-blown sand.
Responding to queries from The Mercury on whether the new and lower dune height would leave beaches more vulnerable to wave surges, the city conceded that larger volumes of sand provided more protection.
However, the imperative to guard against wave surges had to be balanced against the city’s other objectives, such as stormwater drainage and better views of the beach zone.
Nevertheless, ecologists have suggested the dunes may have to be “reshaped” on a regular basis if the city’s objective is to ensure a clear view from the promenade.
The latest exercise has also raised questions about continuing financial costs to ratepayers and the legal implications of deviating from environmental approval processes.
Lansley, who sent questions to the city, said: “As a Durban ratepayer I contributed to the establishment of what I believed to be a fantastic effort to try to re-establish the dunes and protect the beachfront from erosion.
“To my amazement, I see that these dunes are being removed and there is no guarantee that the new design will work perfectly.
“I believe in the old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it’.” - The Mercury