Oil spill clean-up operation from SELI 1 hampered due to rough seas and high swells picture supplied City of Cape Town

Cape Town - The wreck of the Seli 1, which has been a fixture on the beach at Bloubergstrand since it ran aground in 2009, is finally set to be removed.

On Saturday JP Smith, head of the city’s mayco for safety and security, confirmed that the national transport department had committed to bear the cost of the wreck’s removal, just days after a fourth oil spill, which spread in a 500m radius.

Reports following the spill were that the National Treasury was considering a request for R40 million to remove the wreck, and Smith said they heard via e-mail late on Friday that it had been approved.

“We are delighted to have received this commitment from the Department of Transport.

“It has been a lengthy process of engagement that has resulted in us reaching this point,” he said, adding he was confident of a permanent solution soon.

This would avoid “any further risk to members of the public, [or] the environment”.

The approved budget would be transferred to the SA Maritime Safety Association (Samsa), which would then plan the salvage.

Smith added that the approval received by the city was an early notification, which meant that Samsa and other parties were only likely to be informed this week.

“Hopefully we are able to learn from the Seli 1 situation, and we can handle any future wrecks a lot better. It will be good to see our beaches without wrecks again,” he said.

Asked to comment on Saturday, Samsa regional manager Dave Colly said he had not yet been informed.

In October, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan would table the salvage budget to Parliament in order for the request to be supported by the cabinet.

Smith noted that more than 100 solid waste cleaning staff spent the week washing thick layers of oil from the affected beach and penguins.

Weekend Argus