Harbour wall a costly folly, say locals

Part of the wall being built around the Hout Bay Harbour was destroyed. Some locals claimed the wind did the damage, but the Department of Public Works confirmed that it was indeed vandals who caused the damages.

The Hout Bay Harbour wall, vandalised late last month just weeks after it was built, is a waste of money, say locals.

Sections of the concrete wall were destroyed and, soon after, the harbour’s newly refurbished public toilets.

The Department of Public Works, which is responsible for the harbour, says it has opened a criminal case and given video footage of the suspected culprits to the police.

According to Pubic Works spokesman Thami Mchunu, the decision to build the wall was informed by a police security assessment of the harbour’s security.

Mr Mchunu said he didn’t know yet how much repairs would cost.

The wall was meant to better manage access to the harbour not keep harbour users out, he said.

The public toilets near the slipway were gutted. Even the roof was taken.

“The department is currently refurbishing these ablution facilities as well as providing additional ablution facilities to cater for the large number of tourists and harbour users,” Mr Mchunu said.

The department is also busy repairing harbour buildings destroyed in 2018 service-delivery rioting.

Extra toilets are being built and extensions done to the fish filleting and cleaning area. The harbour basin is also being dredged.

But the work at the harbour has raised some eyebrows in the local fishing community and some fear Public Works wants to keep locals out.

Hangberg fisherman Adrian Hanekom said there were cheaper ways to improve security at the harbour and spending money on the wall was a “complete waste”.

The department, he said, should have hired locals as harbour security guards.

“They will know everybody here, and it’s better than building this ugly wall around the harbour.”

Angelo Joseph, of GMC Diving, said the wall was a “waste of money” if it was meant to stop poachers. The money could have been better spent on training divers.

“They do not want criminal activity to be taking place on the harbour, so they decide to build this wall around it.

“Why not use the money in a more constructive manner, like training people in our community to become professional divers or even security guards?

“These people would then end up protecting something that is right on their doorstep. But to build a wall like this is ridiculous.”

But Mr Mchunu said the plan for the wall had been discussed with the Hangberg community.

“Concerns were raised in these meetings about locals who work in the harbour and adequate access points have been made available for pedestrians to access the harbour when they go to work as well as from work to their respective homes.”

A solution had been needed to address theft and vandalism in the harbour precinct, he said.

“The harbour, being a proclaimed fishing harbour, needs to accommodate a growing tourism industry, hence, enhanced security measures (are needed) to protect all patrons.”

Hout Bay police did not respond to requests for comment.