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Questions raised over uMhlanga estuary exclusion zone

The exclusion zone was imposed after the UPL South Africa warehouse in Cornubia was set on fire during the KZN unrest in July 2021, which led to a toxic chemical spill.

THERE is uncertainty around the 1km exclusion zone set out by the eThekwini Municipality around the Ohlanga River and uMhlanga Lagoon.

In December last year, the City said the beach exclusion zone of 1km north and south of the uMhlanga estuary was still closed.

However, a recent post by a member of Action SA suggests the exclusion zone is no longer in place.

The exclusion zone was imposed after the UPL South Africa warehouse in Cornubia was set on fire during the KZN unrest in July 2021, which led to a toxic chemical spill.

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At the time, authorities closed the estuary and beach as a precautionary measure.

While there has been no comment from the City, uMhlanga resident, councillor and Action SA member Alan Beesley said it was clear the exclusion zone no longer stood.

“There is no signage in place nor is there anybody controlling access to what was previously deemed the exclusion zone. There used to be a security guard in place appointed by UPL, but he was removed a few months ago. There is no enforcement of the exclusion zone, and I have raised this matter in council to ask for clarity. I’ve heard from a fellow party member who heard from a member of the City that there was no longer an exclusion zone in place. I now regularly walk along this stretch of beach, and I have not been stopped once. If you walk down here, you now see more and more people accessing the estuary mouth, and I’ve also seen fishermen move in. In order for the City to enforce, they would have to have measures in place, but that quite clearly isn’t the case,” he said.

Despite a query on the exclusion zone, there has been no comment from the eThekwini Municipality.

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The last statement from the City came in December last year. In that statement, the City appealed to the public to refrain from any beach activities in the vicinity until the water quality is deemed safe.

“The public are reminded that the Ohlanga estuary, lagoon and adjoining beach remain closed… Only one kilometre of the beach on either side of the lagoon is closed and not the entire beach… The public are asked to be patient and comply with requests from authorities. Any inconvenience is regretted. However, the safety of the public is of utmost importance,” the statement read.

 

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