The Dolphin Coast’s flagship event – the Ballito Pro – is fast approaching, but Willard Beach is in no state to host an international event that will be watched by the world, North Coast Courier reports.
As The Ballito Pro surf contest gets underway for 10 days from June 22, locals have begun to worry about the poor image of the appalling state of the beachfront and promenade.
The event attracted 160 000 beach visitors last year, plus about two million surfing fans worldwide who watched the event live on webcams and social media.
KwaDukuza municipality (KDM) has been working on upgrading the concrete access way on to the beach for the past year. Large portions of the beach have been dug up, preventing any vehicles from getting onto the beach (such as lifeguard or rescue vehicles) and providing an eyesore which will seriously damage the Pro’s image.
Ward six councillor Tammy Colley said she is extremely frustrated by the state of the beach.
“I have been bringing this up with KDM since the Pro last year,” Colley said.
“The municipality appointed contractors and environmental engineers who have no idea about local tides. The more they kept digging, the more water kept seeping in.”
Colley said what was most vexing was that there are in fact people within KDM who know, but that they had not been consulted.
The original plan to reconstruct the access way has since been shelved due to the contractor’s failure to take into account tide and beach conditions. According to Colley, the gaping holes will now be filled with sandbags.
In addition to Willard beach problems, the beachfront is in darkness at night and in the early mornings with a worrying amount of streetlights not working.
Ballito estate agent Johnny Mutton undertook a personal survey and found that three of the four main lights near the actual staging of the event were broken, while on the promenade past Boulder Bay towards Hops, a grand total of only two out of 18 lights were working.
“The rest are broken, vandalised or just not working,” Mutton said.
“It is pitch black out there. These surfers leave in the early hours to get to the beach – it is not safe, and it is a bad showcase for Ballito.”
Colley told the Courier that these issues had come up in council, and KDM assured them that the beach would be ready to host this international event.
KDM spokesperson Sipho Mkhize vowed the ramp would be ready before the start of the Ballito Pro.
He said the contractor had brought machinery and materials to the site on Monday, and they started work on Tuesday.
“The work will be completed latest by Monday next week.”
They will use geo-container sandbags to support the embankment. In this “soft engineering” option, the containers are filled with sea sand from the existing excavations and assembled as an embankment revetment.
Regarding the lighting, there was a maintenance schedule in place to sort out all the venues affected by the event.