Rehabilitation work has started at the Bluff's storm-damaged Ansteys beach.Picture: BONGANI MBATHA/ANA
DURBAN - THE beginning of upgrades and rehabilitation work on Bluff beaches has been lauded by residents, but has only started after much engagement with eThekwini municipal departments.

Many Durban beaches, including Ansteys, Treasure and Brighton, have been extensively damaged by storms.

This week, rehabilitation work began with the installation of heavy-duty sandbags in some areas and repairing of water drainage pipes that were left exposed.

The project was welcomed by the residents and volunteers who are committed to beach clean-up programmes.

Beachgoers were thrilled to finally see maintenance work being done.

Among their concerns were the sand-covered grassed verges, exposed pipes and debris littering the coastline.

Patrons who frequented local restaurants said the beaches were an eyesore.

The upgrade is expected to cost about R5 million and to be completed in three months.

Included is the installation of heavy-duty sandbags to prevent soil erosion, restoration of natural vegetation, repairs to three pedestrian staircases, picnic benches and tables, and erecting umbrellas and barriers to protect the beach from strong winds.

Malcolm Leal, who lives near the coastline, said: “Our beaches are badly in need of sand. Ansteys is a case in point where the roads are always full of sand; it’s blown up towards Marine Drive.

“The look of the beach has changed and previously buried rocks are now exposed.”

In preparation for the festive season, the city issued public notices about beach closures so that sand pumping operations and other routine maintenance exercises could be conducted.

“Currently, there is a severe shortage of sand on the beaches that have been closed until replenishment happened. As a result, the protection of municipal infrastructure along this coastline has been compromised, said city spokeswoman Tozi Mthethwa.

Sand-pumping operations and other rehabilitation efforts were under way so that the affected beaches could be ready for the festive season, she said.

The municipality was also conducting sand and water quality checks, which had been approved by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mthethwa said.

DA ward councillor Jean-Pierre Prinsloo said it had taken almost 14 months of engagement with various municipal departments to get the go-ahead for the projects.

“The rehabilitation work will eradicate many challenges we presently face, like sand covering roads, unsafe conditions and overall aesthetics,” Prinsloo said.