Sunday, March 20, 2016


Dear Cape Town Ratepayers,

          This is a continuation of my Cape Town’s never ending money dump investigation (The money dump).  
            Hundreds of thousands of rand have just been spent on heavy earth moving equipment to shift the sand dunes around at Witsands at the site of a rubbish dump that was closed more than 30 years ago.
          The Cape Town City Council has splurged an average of R500 000 a year on this over the last 10 years according to Johan van der Merwe the Councillor in charge of Environmental Planning.
          The dunes adjoin a popular surfing beach on a scenic route not far from Cape Town on the road to Cape Point.
          Here I reveal how the additional R150 000 the City has just spent on net fences to keep the sand in place is another huge waste of money because this is not the best or the most economical solution. 
          A lot of sand has been taken out of the middle of the area and dumped to form a ridge about a 100 metres wide parallel to the beach.
          The Council then employed Vula Environmental Restoration, a firm of dune restoration specialists, to erect five kilometres of net fencing along this ridge to keep the sand in place in a area notorious for very strong winds at all times of the year.
          In the past the use of brushwood had proved a dismal failure. 
          Now it seems this netting, which is an even more expensive method, will be another huge waste of tax payer’s money.
          All the experts I could find on the internet were unanimous: This is only a temporary solution.
          This is what one had to say: “There are various methods of sand dune stabilization. All of them, but one, are considered temporary. The permanent sand dune stabilization is afforestation.”
          So my idea of having the area covered with the fast growing Port Jackson willow, which the man on site in charged of the Vula netting project laughed at, would seem to be the best solution (See my first report The money dump) I went to Witsands after the first big blow had occurred a day after the net web had been completed and it was down in several places.
In others the sand was nearly covering it. When this happens the nets are no longer any use as a sand trap according to Dr William “Bill” Woodhouse a Professor of Soil Science who worked for the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
An authority on the stabilisation of coastal dunes Dr Woodhouse and another professor developed a new superior strain of American beach grass to trap sand on this type of dune.
His conclusions were that vegetation was the best, most economical way of stabilizing dunes on a permanent basis.
          In several places between the rows of netting nearest the Witsands beach rubbish, like glass and plastic was showing above the sand. This had either been exposed by the wind or it could have been brought in with sand when it was moved from further inland to form the ridge.
          Various types of non-biodegradable waste were also visible on top of the sand at what appears to be the heart of the old landfill site. It looked as though too much sand had been taken off this area to build up the ridge next to the beach. Organic rubbish has long since rotted away.
          On 13 March I emailed pictures to Councillor Johan van Merwe. These were examples of what the netting looked like after the first strong wind and I asked him what he thought it would be like in six months or a year’s time.
          I included other pictures of rubbish on the surface.
          I also pointed out that although Witsands was designated as a free running beach for dogs little or no provision had been made for them to get out of this web of nets even though I had been told this was the case. I added that I believed dogs could easily get trapped inside it and then it would probably be pushed down.
          I asked for his comments and have yet to get an answer.
Rows of net fences
Almost dead and buried
Fencing falling over already
Plastic and glass showing between the rows
Rubbish on  the surface further inland from
where the nets are
          Jon, a Consumer Watchdog and Cape Town ratepayer who hates seeing his money squandered in this way, on an old rubbish dump of all things, when the poor are regularly protesting violently against lack of basic services.

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