Frankenstein rears its head again

Roads near the beach were covered in sand last weekend.

Hout Bay’s dune system ignominiously known as “Frankenstein” reared its head again last weekend as high winds dumped sand onto Harbour Road and the surrounds, resulting in cars becoming stuck and pedestrians having to negotiate sand-laden pavements.

The City of Cape Town began a dune rehabilitation project earlier this year to address the decades-long dune problem, establishing wind netting in an effort to catch the sand coming from the Chapman’s side of the beach when the south-easterly wind blows.

At a later stage, Maron grass, a non-invasive species, will be introduced to clump the dune sand together. But with large amounts of sand once again spilling onto Harbour Road over the weekend, residents have begun to question the merits of the rejuvenation plan.

On Facebook page Hout Bay Organised, Lundi Mann said that since the new sand initiative had started, the sand problem had been the “worst it has ever been”.

“I have lived in Edward Road for the past nine years and have never experienced the sand as bad as this year,” she wrote.

Charmaine Bosch added her voice to the debate. “So much for the City’s landscape architects and their design to contain the dunes using metre upon metre of ineffective nets.

“I wonder what this has cost us ratepayers to date and still left us with a bigger problem than ever before.”

Several residents also suggested that a wall – which existed at the water’s edge in the 1980s – should be re-established to stop the sand.

But ward councillor Roberto Quintas, who has been driving the project, said last weekend’s gale-force winds were an anomaly.

“We had extremely strong winds last weekend. We have already had a fair amount of wind, which is normal for the summer months, but actually the wind nets are doing their job in mitigating the sand levels.

“Last weekend was an anomaly, because so far very little sand has been deposited on the beach compared to previous years,” he said.

“The wind nets are the first phase of the project. They were never going to guarantee that sand doesn’t come onto the road, but this is not an overnight procedure.

“The second phase of the project will see Maron grass anchoring the new dune system. Seedlings have already been moved from the Depot site in Imizamo Yethu for these purposes, and are being watered with non-potable water until our rainy
season comes, when they will be planted.”

He said he understood residents’ frustrations about the excessive sand deposits, but urged them to be patient.

“We are continuing with our sand removal procedure.

“The sand that is being taken away by trucks will be used in sand bags
by the City’s disaster risk management unit.

“During periods of excessive drought, there are often flash floods and these sand bags will be used to secure flood-affected areas.”