Official injured at beach

Eroded dunes at Big Bay beach collapsed on top of a City official after last weeks storm.

The City of Cape Town closed Big Bay beach to the public last week after an official was injured there while checking storm damage.

The man suffered head and back injuries but is now out of hospital.

The dune he was assessing collapsed a day after a storm with gale-force winds had battered the city on Wednesday June 7, uprooting trees, tearing roofs off homes and pounding low-lying coastal areas with heavy swells.

Suzette Little, may-oral committee member for area north, said the beach had suffered a lot of damage and erosion, and would be closed until the stability of the dunes had been established.

“The area is unstable and unsafe. We therefore urge the public to adhere to the interim restrictions for their own safety,” she said.

Erosion at Big Bay has become a problem with the beach level dropping sharply.

In April, an entrance to the beach from Eden on the Bay and the Waters Edge development was closed temporarily for safety reasons (“Beach entrance temporarily closed,” Tabletalk, April 5).

Last year, the concrete slipway used by the Big Bay Lifesaving Club and other emergency services collapsed, also because of the drop in the beach level (“Damaged Big Bay slipway removed,” Tabletalk, July 13, 2016).

The slipway was replaced with a more robust semi-flexible gabion.

Ward 23 councillor Nora Grose said she had met with engineers, consultants and officials on Friday June 2, before the storm hit last week, to discuss the rapid erosion along the Big Bay coastline, and “due to the deterioration and damages to the board walks and slipway area” she had already called for the beach to be closed, but it was “not that easy to close beaches and public spaces due to several regulations”.

Ms Grose said she had rushed to the scene after hearing about the accident on Thursday, which had then escalated her call to close the area. Ms Grose has urged the public to stay away from the beach.

“Although we have closed the area as best as we can, it is remarkable to note how the public with children simply ignore the notice and signs of closure in this area.”

Ms Grose said heavy machinery was now being used to lower the beach embankments and remove old concrete blocks, timber and fencing.

Meanwhile Table View Ratepayers’ Association (TVRA) chairwoman Mandy da Matta questioned whether the beachfront had been deliberately allowed to deteriorate.

“The City of Cape Town has steadfastly refused to provide the necessary funding required to maintain and upgrade the Table View Beachfront, inclusive of Big Bay. Big Bay was closed off four times to the public last year due to the fact that there were three serious sewage spills contaminating the sea as well as the area in front of the lifesaving club.”

She said the City should prioritise funding and maintenance for the coastline.

“It is time for the residents of greater Table View to demand their rights,” she said, adding that they should see benefits in the area for the rates and taxes they paid.