There is more than half a million Rands in donations from St Francis Bay residents, businesses and organisations to be used for a Basic Assessment to fix St Francis Bay’s fast eroding coastline.
According to Nigel Aitken of the St Francis Bay Residents’ Association tasked with managing the administration and co-ordination of all activities pertaining to the beach, the R400 000 required for the Basic Assessment has already been achieved.
“Monies collected are way beyond our wildest dreams and money is still pouring in. The importance of our beach can never be underestimated and the amazing response shown by most property owners in St Francis Bay has given a clear indication of how vital our beach is to the future of this town. It also goes to show what can be done and how this small community can rally together when the need arises,” says Aitken.
Aitken says surplus monies will be used to assist in the repairing of existing revetments and accesses to the beach in public open spaces as it’s essential the entire beach is protected.
One of the reasons, for the success of raising funds, Aitken believes, is the transparent way the entire project has been conducted, together with regular press updates on the progress. “Where possible, every person who donated money has received a personal thank you letter.”
Aitken says some residents have queried exactly what this Basic Assessment will give this community. In answer he says, the report will give recommendations on what areas of current revetments need repairing and how they should be repaired. “The whole purpose of the exercise is to ensure the beachfront is adequately protected for the next 5-10 years while the restoration of the beach is implemented.The Spit and the golf course area adjacent to George Road will be given a number of options that are suitable for shoring up this section of our beach. One of the options will include the use of large sandbags.
“It will then be up to those affected people to decide which option they would prefer. Expert opinion has indicated that once Phase Two, the restoration of our beach, has been completed there is every likelihood that the rock revetments or any other structure could be removed.
“The placement of off-shore reefs or groynes or a combination of both will have to be created prior to the pumping of sand back onto our beach because without these structures the sand will just wash away. Further professional opinion has also indicated that current rock revetments can be used to create reefs and groynes.
“Once the Basic Assessment has been received, hopefully in the next few weeks, a short period of public participation is required. Then the report will be submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs.
The department has promised to fast track its approval as it is well aware of the urgency.”
Aitken also reveals that Frank Silberbauer has been appointed by the Joint Beach and Spit Committee to co-ordinate the submissions of all documentation to relevant parties. “This is an extremely important process that has to be followed. The request for the implementation of Phase Two has already been submitted to Council which, hopefully, will be approved at their next Council meeting.”
Aitken also stressed the importance of Clr Ben Rheeder’s involvement in establishing the Joint Beach and Spit committee. “It must be remembered that the problem we have with the beach erosion came about as a result of the development of Santareme. Clr Rheeder currently negotiating with Council in this regard,” Aitken added.
Residents at odds over beach repairs and donations
Despite the generous public donations to save St Francis Bay’s beach and the praise and joy felt by most that at last something appears to be being done in this regard, some people in the local community are again divided over the solutions for the beach repairs and the payment thereof.
Some residents do not want to spend one cent to repair the beach. They either say the Kouga Municipality or national government should repair the beach, or they say they do not want rocks along the beach to protect the beach as they believe it will destroy the beach.
Then there are other residents who say only those home owners who have homes along the beachfront should pay for repairs to the St Francis Bay beach. Business people in the coastal town, dependant on the influx of visitors during peak seasons, disagree as they say that if there is no beach, many people from the interior of the country may not wish to visit here and then the whole town will be affected.
Some tourists here over the last festive season and at Easter this year lamented the fact that they had rented beachfront holiday homes and only found when they arrived that there was no beach. “I doubt I will come back again for a holiday here unless the beach is repaired,” one highly disappointed man from Pretoria said, echoing similar comments from others. He and other critics also believed holiday visitors who pay big sums of money to spend a holiday at the seaside should be told in advance there is no beach.
While there is a beach at Cape St Francis, some parents complained they had to spend time travelling down to this neighbouring beach to drop off and fetch kids every day. “We want to be near a beach so our kids can walk there an back whenever they wish