New life on Frankenstein’s horizon

Bulldozers have been reshaping dunes on Hout Bay beach.

Hout Bay beach has taken on a very different appearance in the past fortnight as the long-awaited dune stablilisation project has kicked into gear.

The years-long windblown sand problem caused by the encroachment of the sand dunes, known as “Frankenstein” to locals, has been met with a number of bulldozers on site to push back the sand, with the result that a large section of the beach is now flattened.

This is the first step in setting up artificial dunes to complement the existing dune system.

For ward councillor Roberto Quintas, the first steps in the project are the realisation of an ambition he has held even before taking up his position last August.

“I have been driving the stabilisation project even before I became a public representative. When I first moved to Hout Bay a few years ago, I myself became a victim when my vehicle became stranded in the sand on Harbour Road,” he said this week.

“I was exposed to residents’ concerns about the dunes on social media, and felt that I wanted to do something to help. Fortunately, even as a resident, the former Sub-council 16 chair Demetri Qually, was happy to include me.”

Getting the project off the ground has not been without its challenges. Approval had to be sought from the national Department of Environmental Affairs, while the City was also implementing its new Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP), which caused further delays.

“Now that this has been done, it has allowed City departments to be more closely aligned and work with one another. It has also taken some time for us to reach a resolution with our private stakeholders in Hout Bay, but that has now been reached.”

Furthermore, he said, the City had to wait for the south-easterly wind to abate, in order to reduce the amount of wind-blown sand.

Once the dune area has been adequately shaped, it will be prepared for the introduction of non-invasive marram grass, an anchor grass that is best suited to sand retention.

Also imminent is the introduction of wind nets, while sacrificial fencing will be incorporated into the dunes.

“The dunes known as Frankenstein have developed over millions of years. The aim of the project is to manage wind-blown sand deposited on the Chapman’s Peak side of the beach which then blows onto the north shore side,” Mr Quintas said.

At a later stage, a gabion-type wall will be established to reinforce the dune system.

Mr Quintas said he would be committing a “fair” portion of his annual ward allocation budget to the dune project. This would be used to ensure the parking areas and public open spaces would be beautified and made free of sand.

“I am extremely excited, but I must also make a heartfelt plea to residents not to walk over the new dunes. Once these are in place, I also implore residents to resist the temptation to slide down them on sand-boards or other boards.”

Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for area north, said the total expected costs over the full length of the project (18 to 24 months) were in the region of R8 million.

“In addition, once stabilised and planted, the dunes will require ongoing annual maintenance and management,” she said.

“We hope to have the dunes reshaped and the wind netting installed by the end of October before the south-east winds return. This will significantly reduce the wind-blown sand issue. We have already established a nursery to grow seedlings and that work is under way. It is likely that the seeding and planting will then take place from April next year at the start of winter.”