Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

’20 beaches are safe for swimming,’ says KZN premier ahead of festive season

Some popular swimming spots in Durban, uMhlanga and eMdloti are open.

KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube says the majority of bathing beaches along the Durban coast have been declared safe for swimming.

Earlier this week, the eThekwini municipality closed six beaches because of critically high levels of E. coli in the water, which indicates the presence of sewage.

The city, which released water quality results based on samples taken from both bathing and non-bathing beaches, blamed the contamination on recent heavy rains.

High E. coli levels has negatively affected tourism in Durban in recent years due to the beach closures.

‘Excellent beach water quality’

Addressing the media on Thursday, Dube-Ncube confirmed that some popular swimming spots in Durban, uMhlanga and eMdloti are open.

“We have been having concerns about the state of readiness of our beaches in Durban. We received a report indicating that 20 bathing beaches out of 23 are now open and are safe for swimming along the Durban coastline,” she said.

“One of the beaches was closed because I drove there on Sunday and I found it closed [but] I received a report that it was opened on Monday. I am yet to go see there for myself. But I was told they were able to open it because they had received the results that indicated that the uMhlanga beach is open.

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“The Durban central beaches and the northern beaches of uMdloti ,they are all open. The trend that has been consistent with the excellent and acceptable beach water quality results that have been sampled over the past few months,” the premier continued.

Dube-Ncube assured visitors that testing of water occurred regularly as the province expect thousands of holidaymakers this festive season.

“We have a number of independent experts from the Department of Environmental Affairs that will help with quality assurance of the work that is done by eThekwini municipality. This will ensure that our water is safe for our communities. So we want to encourage all our visitors to come to the coast and enjoy their time. The trend that we have been observing is that the 20 beaches are safe for swimming,” she added.

uMhlanga pier reopened

eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda on Thursday also confirmed that 20 bathing beaches remain open.

Kaunda said the results from the joint sampling by the eThekwini Municipality, Durban University of Technology and Talbot conducted this week showed “excellent” and “acceptable” water quality that was compliant with acceptable standards ahead of the bumper festive season long weekend.

According to the municipality, the three rivers with “poor” water quality were non-bathing and have no impact on recreational use.

While the city was still experiencing challenges with the bacteria, Kaunda said, the municipality was keeping a close eye on it.

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“The monitoring and routine weekly testing across all the city’s 23 bathing beaches continues and if there are any challenges with water quality, we don’t hesitate to close affected beaches because the safety of the public is of paramount importance to us,” he said during a media briefing.

He further highlighted that the city had also repaired its swimming pools and all 34 would be operational during the festive season.

“In anticipation of the influx of holidaymakers, we have employed seasonal staff to increase the number of lifeguards, waste pickers and child minders along the beach. Furthermore, to guarantee the safety of residents and visitors, the police are maintaining high visibility along the beachfront, CBD and all areas that have been identified as crime hotspots.”

Kaunda was speaking at the reopening of the Whalebone Pier in uMhlanga after it was closed for three months for renovations.

The project cost the city R3.2 million.

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