Slipping away…

Beach-goers struggle to make their way to the beach on the slipway.

The dilapidated slipway at the Blue Flag beach at Strandfontein Pavillion has become a huge concern, with 16 injuries reported there since October.

Strandfontein Surf Lifesaving Club and the National Sea Rescue Institute are putting pressure on the City of Cape to repair the slipway as thousands of people will descend on the beach during the festive season.

Strandfontein Surf Lifesaving club coach and executive member, Jenino Masters, said beach-goers found it difficult to walk on the uneven and broken slipway to gain access to the beach.

“It is one of the main entrances to the beach. And because of the damaged slipway we have had 16 First aid incidents of people with cuts and bruises. At one point we had to close the section with tape because of the incidents, but people are eager to be on the beach so we cannot deny them access.”

Mr Masters said because the slipway was damaged, people were using a second slipway that was designated for the use of the lifeguards. “But they cannot use it because it has algae on it, which can be dangerous for them as they might slip and hurt themselves. We have informed the City of Cape Town about the issue months ago when the slipway started breaking off, but until today it is still not fixed.

“The festive season is around the corner, and we are concerned about the mini slipway which is the main entrance to the beach,” said Mr Masters.

He added that they had to assign a lifeguard to assist people down to the beach and to ensure that they did not hurt themselves. “So this now means that we have to have one less eye on the beach, which means double the workload for them. Then, recently one of our lifeguards hurt her foot and was off for two weeks. An old railing broke off on the slipway, cut into her skin which was then infected.

“So we are appealing to the City of Cape Town to have it fixed as soon as possible as people, young and old, come to the beach. Also with the water crisis we have, people will be coming to the beaches because of all the pool closures,” he said.

Mr Masters said he found it strange that Strandfontein Beach has Blue Flag status, despite it not having proper facilities.

Strandfontein beach is one of 10 Blue Flag status beaches in Cape Town. The others are Mnandi Beach, Bikini Beach, Muizenberg Beach, Fish Hoek Beach, Llandudno, Camps Bay Beach, Clifton 4th Beach, Melkbosstrand and Silwerstroomstrand.

The City has participated in the Blue Flag Beach Programme since its inception in South Africa in 2001. The Blue Flag is an international accreditation awarded to beaches that display excellence through meeting 33 criteria covering four categories including: environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management and safety and services.

The participation in this international programme is voluntary and the status indicates that the beaches all have their own environmental education programmes, have bathing water of the highest standard, are clean, have adequate ablution facilities and parking, are environmentally sound, are safe and secure to visit, and adhere to international safety and tourism standards.

NSRI Strandfontein station commander, Vaughn Seconds, said they too were concerned about the damaged slipway.

“Thousands of people attend Strandfontein beach during the festive season. How can the main entrance of the beach be damaged? That slipway has broken down over the past few months, and up until now it is not fixed. That area looks bad already and can only get worse.

“People are already coming to the beach on hot days, and are struggling to get down to the beach, so the City has to take action before the festive season hits,” he said.

Sub-council 23 chairperson and councillor for Ward 43, Elton Jansen, said he had not been aware of the state of the slipway until the Plainsman brought it to his attention.

“I have informed the officials about the issue and requested that they fix it. This is a huge concern as thousands of people come down to the beach during the festive season,” he said.

Mr Jansen added that he was pushing for Fishermans Lane – known by locals as Broken Road – and the damaged slipway to be repaired.

“The safety of beach-goers is important, and as a councillor I am proposing that the City upgrade this coastline, in terms of safety and business development. Strandfontein Beach has so much potential and is an attraction for many. For example Fisherman’s Lane, popular for fishing, the beach and tidal pool,” he said.

Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for area south, said the City of Cape Town was assessing the damage but required the input of a structural engineer. Once the assessment was completed, he said, the planning and costing of repairs would be done.