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Excitement, skepticism mark opening of Durban beaches

from FUTHI MBHELE in Durban
DURBAN – THERE are mixed feelings over the reopening of the beaches in Durban, KwaZulu Natal.

While the beachfront is abuzz with beach goers thrilled at the reopening, some residents remain skeptical this is a health hazard owing to the sewer issue.

Some beaches had been closed since August because of the high levels of e-coli caused by sewage spills.

It was a beautiful day at the Durban beachfront on Thursday when the eThekwini municipality mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, opened the beach.

Kaunda enjoyed his time at the beach in a swimsuit. Clad in a swimsuit, he dived into the seawater to demonstrate that Durban beaches are safe for bathers.

He also engaged in sporting activities with the public.

Among activities included riding pulled rickshaws and Segway gliding.

“The intention is to showcase to the world that Durban is open for business and that indeed we remain Africa’s playground,” said the mayor.

Noma Khumalo is excited the public can now access the beach and do some activities that had been barred.

Swimming, surfing and fishing were prohibited.

“I am right here enjoying the beach. We came to swim. Durban is open,” the excited Khumalo said.

The closure of the beaches had divided residents and authorities. The tensions were rising with the festive season approaching. It was feared the closure was also affecting tourism in the city.

The re-opening of these beaches comes after tests by experts showed an improvement in the water quality.

Other residents are not carried away by the reopening.

“I personally feel the beaches are still not safe. Sewer is still flowing into our beaches. So, you can get sick,” said Keshnee Maharaj.

Gloria Nonjabulo concurred.

“The municipality is making people swim in sewage,” Nonjabulo insisted.

Maharaj blamed poor service delivery for the wastewater spillages into the sea.

“The streets, especially in the residential areas are filthy. Our streets are hardly swept. Garbage is everywhere,” the concerned resident said.

Local authorities have blamed the damage to infrastructure during the floods that wreaked havoc in KwaZulu-Natal earlier in 2022.

uMhlanga Urban Improvement Precinct (UIP) meanwhile confirmed the uMhlanga Main and Bronze Beaches were open.

“If there are any changes, we will promptly inform our members and stakeholders,” Umhlanga UIP stated.

While the dust settles on the beach closures, crime is a concern.

“Durban has deteriorated so much over the past year we feel so embarrassed to say we are living here,” Maharaj lamented.

Kaunda however assured residents and tourists of their safety.

He said Ethekwini was working with all spheres of government and the private sector to implement an integrated festive season safety plan.

“Our law enforcement officers will maintain high visibility in all areas to save lives and ensure safety during the festive season,” the mayor assured.

The city has partnered with Etron Electric Motor Bikes, which donated motorbikes to be used by the Metro Police for patrols during the festive season.

– CAJ News

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