“There are as many experts on beach erosion as there are residents in St Francis Bay”.
With a public meeting due to be held at St Francis Links clubhouse on the 29th January with the proposed ‘Coastal Protection’ scheme for St Francis Bay with consulting engineers CES in attendance it seems appropriate to raise the subject that goes back over 22 years.
These at opening of this post are the words of then Mayor, Councillor Jean Chaput when he introduced a proposal to arrest the beach erosion that was already evident 22 year. A report in Our Times on 2nd October reported on how then Mayor Chaput had suggested changes to an initial proposal was to build a R20 million groyne extending 450 metres off beach adjacent to the spit just south of the river estuary. Considered far too expensive the altered proposal was reduced to a smaller groyne costing in the region of R1 million and possibly a second groyne to supplement the first if feasible. Although supported by the designer of the port, Alan Wynberg the proposal was doomed for the many expert could not agree.
The proposal was discussed in depth at public meetings where several other solutions were proposed including dredging the river mouth, beach nourishment using sand from the Sand River, a series of parallel groynes, wave blocks, manta mats and rock revetments. Attempting to motivate the concept the Mayor uttered words similar to those used in several presentation but present St Francis Property Owners NPC Chairman, Wayne Furphy – stated “the alternative is to do nothing!”
Roll on 17 years and the “Saving St Francis” presentation at the associations AGM in December 2015.
MAKE THINGS HAPPEN, WATCH WHAT HAPPENS or WONDER WHAT HAPPENED?”
Roll on a further four years and although professionals have been employed to best find a solution to best replenish the beaches there are those with absolutely no expertise or knowledge who will object and stop the process. One antagonist in particular will surely find reasons to criticise whatever Furphy and his team and the employed engineers are trying to achieve and what the indisputable majority of members of the SRA members voted for, again, at their AGM in December.
The time has surely come to do what should have been done 22 year ago and get on with. Stop the talk and get it done! Every delay will make it all the more costly. And if it is not done what will it cost the town in terms of property values, tourism income and employment.
But maybe that is what those so objecting to the SRA’s efforts are all about. Maybe they want St Francis Bay to lose its attraction as a popular holiday destination. They object to all the SRA stands for CCTV cameras not being manned 24 / 7 (where in the world are they monitored 24/7 pray tell) or that CCTV footage is not available for all to see even though this is a requirement of SA Law. That it has significantly helped reduced crime according to the security companies and SA Police Services is ignored. That the new traffic circle not only looks great but has significantly improved safety of motorists and pedestrians too is a waste and we should rather live with potholes just so long as they are not on our street.
Will in 20 years, another scribe write of how as a youngster he used to spend wonderful holidays in St Francis Bay but because the old farts way back then refusing to do anything about it, St Francis Bay was now just a collection of old decaying thatched roofs for old retired people unable to give their home away let alone sell them at a profit.
Detractors want guarantees that it will work and that it won’t be a waste of money. Who knows? Maybe it won’t work but maybe it will. If something isn’t tried it definitely won’t work of that we can be 100% assured.
Imagine Sir Edmund Hillary saying “I don’t think I can make it to the summit of Everest so I better not try”. Imagine a chemist on the edge of discovering a cure for cancer stopping because the drug may not work. Imagine being offered that drug that could cure your cancer, arthritis or other ailment but refusing it because it may not work. Nothing is guaranteed in life but the only way we have made so much progress in past two centuries is because people have tried.
You cannot win the lotto if you don’t have a ticket.
So before you write your comment on how the SRA is wasting your money, consider what will happen if nothing is done. Write rather on how you can support the efforts and let the whole town work for a better place to live.