While Deputy President David Mabuza is tending to sewage problems in the Vaal, raw sewage is once again spilling into Durban Harbour, Wilson’s Wharf, Durban’s Golden Mile and Umhlanga beaches.
The news of raw sewage spillage on the city’s main beaches comes after a sewage spill led to the closure of Battery Beach earlier this month.
Durban North beaches have been closed since July due to a chemical spill from the United Phosphorus Limited (UPL) Chemical Plant in Cornubia.
The sewage problem seeping into the sea will undoubtedly affect Durban’s Blue Flag status if e-coli levels surpass standards safe for human exposure.
“The sewage crisis that is compromising the status of our most prized tourist attractions. These regular unchecked sewage spills have manifold economic, environmental, social and health impacts,” said DA Portfolio Committee on Tourism member Hannah Shameema Winkler.
At this point, the City can ill afford a sewage crisis at the beaches ahead of the festive season. After the July riots and Covid-19 restrictions, the province desperately needs additional local and international tourism revenue.
“Businesses in the area will likely experience the knock-on effects of decreased clientele, severely impacting local tourism economies that are already under financial strain due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Winkler.
There are fears that Umhlanga beaches’ water quality is also deteriorating, which will impact tourist visits to the area.
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“Durban Harbour and Wilson’s Wharf are prime examples of how unchecked environmental pollution has had an impact on local business and tourism numbers,” said Winkler.
Businesses on the Wilson’s Wharf strip have complained of a severe sewage stench spilling into the harbour, leading patrons to leave the area.
“The harbour is a pale shadow of its former glory. The local fisherfolk have also expressed concern over the impact of pollution on marine life in the harbour and their ability to continue to feed themselves and their families,” added Winkler.
The party is now driving a parliamentary petition calling for:
- Regular Maintenance of sewage infrastructure: manholes, receiving drains, pump stations, stormwater overflows and screening chambers;
- Regular refuse collection by Durban Solid Waste (DSW) at Wilson’s Wharf, the Golden Mile and Umhlanga Promenade to avoid overflow of refuse into water-courses;
- Increased civic education on the disposal of fat and refuse into stormwater drains;
- Street light maintenance at Wilson’s Wharf to reduce illegal dumping and to promote the safety of the area;
- Illegal Dumping enforcement: erection of no dumping signs and monitoring;
- For eThekwini Municipality to foster working relationships with all relevant stakeholders for effective harbour management;
- Maintenance and fitment of metal mesh on all ducts leading into the harbour that are used to trap refuse;
- Filtration nets to be fitted on all outlet pipes.
The DA also wants Minister of Tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu, to urgently conduct an oversight visit to affected tourism hotspots in Durban.
“We have to initiate a plan to save our local tourism economy from disaster. We are serious about saving livelihoods and preserving our environmental spaces for the enjoyment of present and future generations,” concluded Winkler.