Moves on dune plan

Stakeholders at Tuesday night's briefing at the Hout Bay library.

The City will have spent R7.6 million on keeping Hout Bay’s dunes in check by the end of the current financial year, a public meeting heard on Tuesday.

The sum includes the removal of 3 000 truckloads of sand, using earth-moving equipment to reshape the dunes and nets, poles and nursery materials to restore them.

Addressing the meeting at the Hout Bay library, City of Cape Town officials said the dune management and rehabilitation project sought to address the decades-long dune issue, commonly referred to as “Frankenstein” by locals.

To date, 45 000m2 of dune area has been reshaped, while 10 Working for the Coast workers have been trained and employed on the dune maintenance project.

Also 7km of nets have been installed, 80 000 plants rescued and propagated and a well point installed.

The rehabilitation project has not been without its challenges.

In the summer months, “Frankenstein” reared its head as high south-easterly winds dumped sand onto Harbour Road and the surrounds, resulting in cars becoming stuck and pedestrians having to negotiate sand-laden pavements.

In their presentation, the officials said the City had been hampered by a lack of funds, not having a sole contractor to do the job, water shortages, excessively strong winds and the theft of poles and other infrastructure.

There were also instances of property owners not co-operating with the dune project, and residents walking their dogs over the site.

“The fact is that many City departments have had their budgets slashed because of the drought, and it is always parks, libraries and beautification projects that feel the pinch first,” said ward councillor Roberto Quintas.

He said it was expected to take between 18 and 36 months before any “significant change” would be seen and the vegetation fully established.

The City also had plans to rid the old yacht club parking area of excess sand. Once that was done, the area would be beautified and provision made for a mosaic artwork.

“We could probably look at the mosaic space in the 2019/2020 budget, although we are looking at forming partnerships with business of philanthropic entities for this purpose,” said Mr Quintas.

Audience member Justin O’Riain said netting introduced last year to trap the sand initially had not proved effective, and he wondered whether any lessons had been learnt.

The officials said they had not anticipated the high wind speeds and they were not able to keep up with the lifting of the nets.

It was felt, however, that now the nets had been rolled out across the project area there should be a significant reduction in terms of the sand being dumped on Harbour Road.

Once the dune vegetation was in place, it would perform the same job as the netting: slow the energy of the wind so it disturbed less sand.

Ultimately, the idea was that the sand blowing out of the ocean would be trapped in the frontal zone of the beach. The City would be embarking on a policy of “perpetual maintenance” of the dune system.

“This will be ongoing maintenance forever. We have seen the consequences of not maintaining dune systems in other parts of the City,” Mr Quintas said.