Doonside chasm grows seven months after #Durbanstorm

Ward 97 councillor, Andre Beetge shows how far the chasm has grown in almost seven while the municipality has been dragging its feet.

Following this week’s front page article in the South Coast Sun’s print edition about the growing chasm at a washaway site in Doonside’s Dick King Place, Ethekwini Council has yet to advise what action is to be taken.

The Sun reported that delays in repairs to the growing chasm, due to suspected political interference, has led to the collapse of the bank to more than double its original size.

This follows the initial damage which resulted after the October 2017 storm and subsequent further failure in stormwater infrastructure along the northern embankment of the Little Amanzimtoti River and Dick King Place.

Fourteen emergency projects in the larger Toti area, at an estimated cost of over R141-million, were quantified by eThekwini Municipality at the end of 2017, however Dick King Place was not among the prioritised projects.

READ ALSO: City delays storm damage repairs

The storm resulted in a total of 113 infrastructure repair projects necessitated across the city, totalling around R700-million (at the time) between the stormwater and engineering departments alone.

The projects were split into two lists, with the SUN reporting on the local projects which feature on list one in January.

Ward 97 councillor, Andre Beetge championed the matter during January’s full council sitting, where he elaborated on the extensive damage wrought in the one-in-50-year storm which remained unattended to in the southern parts of the city.

Certain projects which were awarded within days of his submission included work to Amanzimtoti Sports Centre in Riverside Road; Dawn Place in Athlone Park; 737 Kingsway above Wavecrest Road in Athlone Park, which sent tons of Kingsway’s foundation hurtling into houses below, and Good Hope Way in Astra Park.

READ ALSO: Urgent Amanzimtoti storm repairs to go ahead

City manager, Sipho Nzuza however called for a reassessment of projects contained in list two, which were in turn also adjusted to include provision for 50% of work to be subcontracted to local and emerging contractors.

Cllr Beetge said while there were still many projects waiting to be awarded, it appeared from discussions held with the city manager in March that he deemed some projects to no longer constitute an emergency. As such, they could rather be included in the 2018/19 financial budget year, thus reducing the need for irregular spending in terms of Section 36 of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).

Out of town visitors, Gerald and Louise Lewis of Springs check out the original damage to the bank along the Little Amanzimtoti River in this photo taken in November.

The Dick King Place project was one of the projects on list two. Despite Cllr Beetge pleading with the city manager to realise the seriousness of the washaway and the danger it poses to the nearby Warnadoone Lifesaving Club infrastructure, the constantly eroding site still remains unattended to.

“We are led to believe that a meeting was scheduled between the city manager and engineering cluster deputy city manager on Tuesday, 17 April, with the Dick King washaway being one of the agenda points (along with others which remain approved but not yet implemented) but we are not yet privy to that meeting’s outcome,” said Cllr Beetge.

The chasm has more than doubled in size.

“Sources in the engineering department also expressed their concern as provision was made for the second list to be split between emergency and urgent repairs, with projects deemed emergency (approved by council) receiving attention during this financial year and the urgent being delayed in anticipation of funding during the 2018/19 financial year.

The Dick King Place repair, along with others, was contained in a report which was approved by full council in early 2018, which in turn served as an instruction to the city manager to implement.

The fact that we find ourselves mere weeks away from seven months after the storm with no action, is cause for great concern – especially while the cavity increases literally by the day.

There is unsubstantiated corridor talk of political influence, not excluding higher level political discussion between business forums and groups such as MK veterans, to ensure projects are exclusively carried to them. Their lack of capacity might account for the delay, but we will not rest until the repair is done,” said Cllr Beetge.

The Sun awaits a response to its query on the matter, from eThekwini Municipality’s communications department.

 

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  AUTHOR
Earl Baillache
Journalist

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