NATIONAL NEWS - Durban’s beaches need urgent work to get them into shape before the start of the festive season.
That is the opinion of councillor Martin Meyer, who expressed his shock at the condition of the beaches between Blue Lagoon and Sunkist Beach after a recent oversight inspection, he told Berea Mail.
Meyer said while some of Durban’s popular beaches were still in a good state, the beaches that fell within Ward 27 needed to be improved as a matter of urgency as they were popular with local and international holidaymakers.
“Durban is facing dropping numbers of tourists visiting our city. It is unacceptable that one of our biggest attractions, the Durban beachfront, is in such a terrible state a mere month before the start of the busy holiday season. It is unacceptable that more than a year after the October 2017 storm did so much damage, the walkways to get from the parking area to the beach are still badly damaged and unusable, which means that visitors in some places cannot even access the beach area,” said Meyer.
He said Durban depended on tourism as a key industry to grow the local economy and create jobs, but when people saw the sad state of Durban’s beaches, they would not return to visit and would also, unfortunately, through social media alert other potential visitors of the situation which would negatively affect future tourism numbers.
Meyer is now engaging with Durban parks and recreation department as well as Durban Tourism to see if emergency work to improve the situation at the beaches can be done in the few weeks before the holiday season starts.
“I believe in Durban’s tourism potential, and know that we have a lot to offer tourists, but then we have to take care of these important resources,” he said.
Commenting on the state of the beachfront, DA eThekwini caucus leader councillor Nicole Graham said she recently met with officials to try and assess the readiness of the city for the festive season.
“As residents know, we have been losing visitors to eThekwini over the last two years and this urgently needs to change. The paddling pools across the beachfront seem to be in good condition, and there are extra temporary staff employed to clean and look after the pools. However, Rachel Finlayson is still in a state.
“The opening date has been pushed back again so shoddy workmanship can be repaired. This is underway and I have visited the site to monitor the proceedings. It is deeply frustrating, however, that the same contractors have been paid an additional half a million rand to fix their own mistakes. I am taking this up with city management because it is completely unacceptable.”
Graham said the pool is scheduled to be open in November, but said she had her doubts: “I have seen many apparent opening dates come and go.”
Save Our Berea’s Cheryl Johnson and Kevin Dunkley said tourism is one of the biggest generators of future investment and job creation.
“British Airways has started flying directly into Durban and yet the beachfront doesn’t seem to be a priority for the city. Certain anti-social elements continue to trash the beachfront weekend after weekend. Public swimming pools remain shut after botched repair jobs and the city seems at a loss to explain why.
“If the city is not prepared to come to the party and enforce the bylaws, we will lose all the goodwill generated by DA’s belief in Durban as a tourist destination. If the city doesn’t get its act together soon, it will hurt the very people we are all trying to help – the unemployed.”