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Friday Nov 30, 2012

eThekwini told to relocate uMhlanga tidal pool

The R27 million proposed uMhlanga tidal pool should relocate to another area in Durban. And if the eThekwini Municipality forges ahead with the pool - to be located between the Lighthouse and the pier - the DA has threatened to take the issue to national level in a bid to can the project.

The idea of the pools, and that it might attract hundreds of bathers to the up-market area, has been met with outrage from residents and environmental groups.

The party, with about 150 people, from uMhlanga and surrounding informal settlements yesterday marched through the streets of uMhlanga to highlight their disapproval. Brandishing placards with messages such as "We don't want the tidal pool" and "Pools no, homes yes" residents called on the municipality to ditch the project.

Municipal spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng said yesterday the march was premature given the fact that public consultation processes were still under way and assessments had still to be finalised.

The project aims to start in September and forms part of the city's uMhlanga Improvement Precinct (UIP) to help resolve the narrow beaches and associated problem.

It was put in motion earlier this year when the annual budget was approved by council after it was supposed to have been started five years ago before the city redirected funds to emergency disaster funds after a storm damaged the coast.

The three-year-long project will include an upgrade to the sewer pump station and provide lifeguards facilities.

Residents at the march yesterday described the project as a wasteful expenditure, saying the amount should have rather been used towards service delivery.

Ward councillor, Heinz de Boer, said if the city insisted on forging ahead with the project, the DA would take the issue to Parliament. The party would also submit a motion at the city's council meeting to have the project relocated.

De Boer said the party had handed the people conducting the environmental impact assessment a petition against the proposed pool.

"We simply cannot allow such a large chunk of money to be spent on a non vital project when in the past week we have had almost five service delivery protests in Durban," he said.

The city has, however, argued that the pool will alleviate overcrowding.

Addressing residents' concerns about environmental issues, deputy head of coastal and stormwater in the engineering unit, Randeer Kasserchun said objections on water quality, structural integrity, safety, facilities and operational logistics had long been highlighted, and were being addressed through several studies.

While Kasserchun says the pool will cater for tourist demand, some industry experts dispute this.

Tourists want to come to a peaceful, clean, uncrowded resort, Linda Pampallis, the chief executive of Thompsons Africa stressed. "Tidal pools negate this atmosphere," said, adding that it would be "a sad day" if the proposal went ahead.

Wayne Coetzer of Oyster Box Hotel at uMhlanga, said: "Tidal pools have a connotation of being dirty. It is not something that discerning guests want to see."

Daily Mail

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