Questions surrounding the new promenade extension along Durban’s beachfront express not only concerns over visible cracks and uneven sections that point to poor workmanship, but also to the positioning of the promenade in relation to the erosion line.
Save Vetch’s Association (SVA) activist Johnny Vassilaros, and Alwyn Selby, a project manager who has been involved in major developments in Cape Town, recently took Berea Mail on a walk along the promenade, which was extended at a cost of R300 million.
Vassilaros said although the promenade was an attractive addition to the beachfront, it had come at great cost, not only in monetary terms to tax- and ratepayers, but through the continual pumping of sand on the beach, which is destined to ensure the slow death of all marine life along Vetch’s Pier.
Vassilaros said that according to the agreement the city signed with the SVA in 2012, the development was to be built behind the erosion line, or building control line, which is located behind the promenade as it stands today.
“The promenade has been built about 50m too far forward,” he said.
Referring to a wave and erosion specialist study dated 17 June 2015, Vassilaros said: “The last two paragraphs of the Coastal Engineer’s report on the positioning of the promenade make it crystal clear that they had two options for the final positioning.
“Either retreat to a safe distance, as stated in the agreement they signed with the SVA and according to the condition of the authorisation, or place it closer to the sea and have to depend on the oversupply of sand to defend it against the risk of flooding. They chose the latter.
“Already the first 150 metres of this once-thriving reef teeming with life has disappeared under tons of sand. Basically we have replaced a most valuable asset for the people of Durban with a 400-metre concrete walkway, when we already had an eight-kilometre walkway.”
He said sand pumping carried out by Transnet ahead of the festive season, and in previous years as a result of the out-of-commission pump houses on the beachfront, had changed the profile of the sea bed. He said ski boats now had to launch farther out to sea because the depth of water around 40m to 50m out to sea was still only six inches deep.
Vassilaros and Selby said the gardens at the front of the promenade extension were also a wasted effort, as dunes along the beachfront up to this point were all around two metres in height, and with the promenade dropping down four meters, dunes would naturally build up to that height along Vetch’s Beach, and would slowly move up to cover the promenade.
“The development is too low and too close to the sea. There are already serious cracks developing on the top of the promenade and I have heard there have been leaks into rooms below. They have since been sorted out, but this shows bad workmanship,” said Selby, pointing out large cracks and uneven sections to Berea Mail along the walk.
also pointed out there was an alternate way the promenade could have been built to maximise land on the development side at the Point, and expressed concern that simple things like this were overlooked when planning the construction
The promenade is part of the development of the Point Waterfront precinct and is expected to encourage further development in the area. However, Vassilaros said he had heard an investor had withdrawn, but this could not be confirmed.
He said he was also informed there were currently no funds available for the proposed extension of uShaka Pier.
Over the past few weeks Berea Mail approached the city for comment but had received no response.