The eThekwini municipality is being accused of being dishonest by opposition parties on the state of levels of E. coli on the city’s beaches.
Some opposition parties in the eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal have accused the city of putting people’s lives at risk by declaring some beaches north of the city, safe.
While most of the metro’s beaches are now open, the eThekwini Municipality is continuing with repairs to sewage infrastructure that was damaged by this year’s floods. This has led to fluctuating E.coli levels.
Last week, city officials announced that more beaches, including the popular Umhlanga beach, had been re-opened, but just days later, over the weekend, this popular tourist beach was still closed for swimming.
Democratic Alliance (DA) caucus leader in eThekwini, Thabani Mthethwa, says, “Obviously, we have done a ground work, we know that there are millions of raw sewage that are still flowing down to the rivers and going down to our oceans. We knew that the announcement was premature it should never been made, the closure of beaches in eThekwini certainly does have a negative impact in our economy because remember the tourism industry is a major player in eThekwini, there are lot of frustrated people because people when they come to Durban even outside visitors whenever they come to Durban, you cant come to Durban and not go to the beach understandable people are frustrated.”
Sibusiso Makhanya from the unit called Trading and Services that includes water and sanitation in the eThekwini Municipality says they has so far repaired over 75% of the infrastructure that was damaged by floods earlier this year.
Makhanya says, “That is related to the storm and that will enable our communities to enjoy the beaches in as far as that is concerned, we are fairly much above 75% in terms of the temporal work as we continue to work you, we will continue to pick up burst pipes here and there and the same thing applies to the sewage it is an ongoing thing. When you fix here because of the pressure it will pop up somewhere that is normal whether it is water or sanitation, you will have a number of those but as a safety measure we actually test in an ongoing as we fix and repair we test and then as when it is ready we open.”
The director of civil society organisation, Adopt a River, Janet Simpkins says the team has been monitoring water quality and clean ups in the greater Durban area.
Referring to the fluctuating e-coli levels, Simpkins says water results change daily and this is influenced by many factors.
“The results change daily and that just because of the nature of the sea water, there are many factors that influence it, tides, currency and wind. We certainly don’t want people to stay away from eThekwini, it has been really hard hit in terms of COVID-19 and floods and riots, to be safe we would probably suggest swimming at some of the beaches that have proven overtime to be safer than others and of course if there is any noticeable difference in water or funny smell it probably best to stay out of the beach.:
ActionSA’s Chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal, Zwakele Mncwango has asked for the city to conduct water tests daily.
He says, “Even if you go to information board at the beaches it state there that the water is tested every two weeks in a month, as ActionSA we are saying they should appoint an independent company that can test water on a regular basis, that means at least everyday especially because this is a holiday time there are so many people that are flooding eThekwini who want to use our beaches but their safety must be a priority and there is no way as a country, just coming from COVID we cannot allow other outbreak that might come from the bacteria coming from e-coli in the beaches.”
Last week, at the re-opening of the Umhlanga beach, the eThekwini Municipality confirmed that it has applied to the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs to also re-open beaches at Umdloti north of Durban, as well as eThekwini and Lagoon beaches on either side of the Umgeni River mouth.
VIDEO: Two Umhlanga beaches reopened for swimming amid E. coli: