NATIONAL NEWS -
ECO-ACTIVISTS are furious at the eThekwini Municipality’s push to go ahead with the proposed extension of uShaka Pier.
This comes despite a recent report by officials that there will be reduced sand pumping onto Vetch’s Beach in future as a result of the pumping scheme being reinstated.
This, according to the activists, will increase water flow through intake points of the pier, and hence solve the alleged issue of water shortages at uShaka Marine World, the main reason cited for the proposed extension.
Commenting on the progress relating to the proposal and subsequent public participation process, eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the draft basic assessment report (BAR) was compiled and distributed to all authorities and registered interested and affected parties (I&APs) in August.
Mayisela said responses to comments received will be included in the draft BAR. Thereafter, according to Mayisela, the draft BAR will go out for a further 30 day comment period to all registered I&APs. He added that this would be prior to the final basic assessment report being submitted to the Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department (EDTEA) for environmental authorisation.
However, speaking to Berea Mail on behalf of a group of local I&APs, Vetch’s activist Johnny Vassilaros said at the virtual meeting, municipal officials had said they would not entertain any discussions on anything other than the environmental issues of the pier.
This, according to Vassilaros, meant no points made on sand pumping or Vetch’s Pier issues.
He said it was quite blatant to them that these issues were damning to the proposed pier extension plans.
Vassilaros said the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) was commissioned to compile a report for the Engineering Unit Coastal, Stormwater and Catchment Management at eThekwini Municipality regarding the biodiversity of Vetch’s Pier, and that the findings stated there had been a vast reduction of marine life and habitat due entirely to oversupply of sand on the beach.
“It was the municipality that commissioned ORI to carry out the study,” he said.
According to Vassilaros in the draft report, the municipality acknowledged that the oversupply of sand carried out in recent years was the sole cause for the drop in seawater intake to uShaka.
“In the BAR, they do not even consider the reduction of sand pumping in that area as a possible solution, one solution which would cost nothing to the rate payer. This possible solution was suggested by virtually all the I&APs, and was totally ignored by the applicant,” he said.
Vassilaros said this point becomes even more puzzling in light of recent reports that the booster pump stations were close to coming back online to distribute sand evenly over the entire beachfront.
“The City even claimed that there would not be any need to continue dumping sand in the uShaka/Vetch’s areas, which would have solved the entire problem without any further costs, but they are still bent on wasting millions of Rands to extend the pier,” he said, adding that the estimated cost of this project had increased from R50 million to R100 million from one document to the next, without the municipality providing any details.