Helping hand shovels sand

Saul Hlatshwayo is giving back to the community of Hout Bay by clearing sand from the pathways.

While preliminary work in the Hout Bay dune rehabilitation programme is well under way, the City of Cape Town is, unknowingly, getting a helping hand from a good Samaritan to remove the sand from walkways near the beach.

Last week, Imizamo Yethu resident Saul Hlatshwayo was seen shovelling sand from the walkway near Northshore and Edward roads.

He said he often used the path and decided to do something about the sand covering it.

The shifting sands have plagued Hout Bay since the 1950s when the dune fields stretching from Hout Bay to Sandy Bay were ravaged by urban development.

Mr Hlatshwayo used to work as a casual at Premier Fishing in the harbour but has not had work recently, so he decided to use his free time to improve Hout Bay.

“It is hard work but I am happy with what I have done,” he said.

And his efforts have not gone unnoticed. He has been offered a job at Ladybird Landscaping in Hout Bay and says he will continue to remove sand from the walkways in his free time.

The City of Cape Town introduced the dune rehabilitation programme in February after the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs gave it permission to reinstate a dune-management system from the 1990s (“Dune due for big move,” Sentinel, February 26).

Mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe, said although the project had not officially started, the City was busy with the procurement phase.

Phase one will see the reshaping of the dunes across the beach and the installation of wind nets to trap wind-blown sand and stabilise the dunes.

Suitable vegetation will be planted on the dunes and irrigated in phase two.

“Parallel to these two phases, we are aiming to install two low walls at either end of the beach where the beach is too narrow to support vegetated dunes. These walls will help to trap sand on the beach and prevent it from blowing onto hard surfaces,” said Mr Van der Merwe.

A lot of sand had been cleared when the derelict yacht club was demolished, he said. The club’s parking lot, long covered, had once again seen the light of day and was now a popular alternative parking spot for beach visitors.

Last month, the City started clearing more sand from the parking area to see whether there was any damage to the surface.

“As part of both phases we will also look at making repairs to the existing infrastructure, where required,” Mr Van der Merwe said.

The project is expected to take between 18 and 24 months.