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Thursday, 21 December 2017

Seaboard safety plan

Authorities are urging beach-goers to stay safe during the festive season
Authorities and rescue services are preparing for an influx of visitors to the popular Atlantic seaboard beaches in the coming weeks.
The City of Cape Town confirmed that extra law enforcement officials will be deployed to keep beach-goers safe. The City said there will be lifeguards deployed on certain days over the next few weeks.
Wayne Dyason, spokesperson for Law Enforcement for the City of Cape Town, specialised units would be diverted to the beaches during the peak season.
“The beaches are a priority area for the City over the festive season as many of our locals, as well as tourists, are attracted to the city’s beautiful, pristine beaches during this period. Unfortunately, those with criminal intent also see the beach areas as rich pickings for their activities.
“Keeping all our visitors safe and dealing with these threats is a priority and for that additional manpower is needed,” he said.
The City’s auxiliary officers will also be active over the season and augment the efforts of our full-time officers.”
Mr Dyason added that the focus of the festive season safety plan would be the safety of all visitors. “In order to achieve this, officers will pay attention to enforcing all of the City’s by-laws and in particular the Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisance By-law and the clampdown on alcohol on our beaches by enforcing the provisions of the Seashore Act.”
He added that working with structures such as SAPS as well as local Community Police Forums (CPFs) was a vital part of the safety plan. “It is extremely important because an integrated approach to fighting crime is a proven and effective method of combating criminality. To this end the City’s enforcement agencies are committed to supporting all national policing programmes.”
Meanwhile, the City also confirmed that there will be extra lifeguards on duty at some of the popular beaches including Camps Bay and Clifton. Lifeguards will be deployed between 10am and 6pm daily to 22 beaches until January 31 next year. Thereafter, they will be deployed to beaches only on weekends and public holidays until March 31.
In a statement last week, JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, said: “We made this arrangement to compensate for the closure of many municipal swimming pools that will more than likely see an increase in visitor numbers to our beaches and tidal pools.
“We also thank Lifesaving Western Province for their continued support in helping us build a safer city which is a critical priority in our Organisational Development and Transformation Plan.”
According to Mr Smith, the City has more than 270 trained and accredited temporary lifeguards and over 1 500 volunteer lifeguards on duty, as well as the voluntary services of the various lifesaving clubs affiliated to Lifesaving Western Province. This year, the Recreation and Parks Department has a pool of 100 additional lifeguards for deployment as needed.
Mr Smith added: “However, much of our success will depend on the cooperation of the public. We still have far too many people who swim outside of the designated bathing areas and who disregard the instructions of lifeguards. Alcohol is the other major factor that bedevils our efforts to ensure public safety.
“We expect the amount of confiscated alcohol to increase significantly in the weeks ahead. It’s more than a little frustrating, because it does feel as though we say the same things over and over and yet history repeats itself every year. I implore the public to please use common sense when they are out and about on the roads and at recreational facilities. Alcohol impairs one’s judgement and leads to reckless and irresponsible behaviour that endangers the affected person as well as others who are wanting to enjoy our beaches. Surely a few hours of good clean fun can be had without it. I am hoping that we can have a festive season without the tragedy of drownings.”
The National Sea and Rescue Institute (NSRI) has also urged holiday makers planning to visit the coast to stay safe this summer. In a statement last week, spokesperson Craig Lambinon said: “The NSRI is asking parents to make sure their children have responsible adult supervision around all water. We are urging the public to prepare, with a safety conscious mindset, before venturing to the beach, swimming pools, lagoons, lakes, rivers and dams.”
Water safety tips from the NSRI:
1. Children should have responsible adult supervision when in or near water.
2. Swim at beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty and swim between their flags.
3. Don’t drink alcohol before you swim.
4. Never swim alone. Swim in groups.
5. Swimming pool fences and a child safe pool cover or net is vital at home swimming pools.
6. Know how to survive rip currents.
7. Don’t attempt a rescue yourself.
8. Do not let children use floating objects, toys or tyre tubes at the beach or on dams as they may cause you to be blown to deep water by winds.
9. Do not be distracted by your cellphone.
10. Wear life jackets when you are on a boat.
11. If your boat has a kill switch always wear it.
12. Paddlers and boaters should have NSRI’s free RSA App Safetrx cellphone app dowloaded and used on cellphones.
13. Wear bright clothing.
14. Rock anglers should wear life jackets.
15. Have local emergency numbers programmed into your phone.
16. Do not dive into water.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

People urged to use public transport

The City of Cape Town has urged residents to use public transport ahead of what is expected to be a busy festive period.
The City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority, in conjunction with the City’s Traffic Service, will, over the next five weeks, intervene to prevent and alleviate gridlock conditions along the Atlantic Seaboard and the False Bay coastline between Strandfontein and Muizenberg.
The City’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, said: “We have been implementing this strategy for the past four years and intend to do so once again.
“The interventions will happen on an ad hoc basis – thus, as and when needed. More importantly, the interventions may affect those travelling in private vehicles in particular. I therefore urge residents and visitors to make use of public transport as far as possible.
“The MyCiTi service has a number of routes to and from popular spots across Cape Town – in particular to and from Sea Point, Bantry Bay, Clifton, Camps Bay and Hout Bay.
Mr Herron added: “Traffic congestion has become a regular occurrence along the Atlantic Seaboard during the holiday period. The best solution remains to avoid travelling to this area in private vehicles, and to rather opt for public transport, walking, and cycling as far as possible.
The MyCiTi service offers a hassle-free option for those who do not want to be stuck in gridlock traffic while searching for limited on-street parking.
“Visitors can park their private vehicles in the city central business district or Foreshore area and use the MyCiTi bus service or any other public transport service to reach the beaches along the Atlantic Seaboard, in particular on December 26 and January 1, which are popular beach days in perfect weather conditions.
Atlantic Seaboard
Those who have visited the Atlantic Seaboard during the festive season in previous years will know that parking is limited and that it can easily take two to three hours to travel between Sea Point and Camps Bay by car.
Interventions will take place on an ad hoc basis at the main entry points to the Atlantic Seaboard as and when gridlock conditions necessitate it.
In Sea Point and Bantry Bay, interventions may take place at the following intersections:
Queens and Beach roads
Queens and Victoria roads
Queens and Regent roads
In Camps Bay, interventions may take place at the following intersections:
Houghton Road and Camps Bay Drive
Victoria and Houghton roads
“MyCiTi buses, coaches, minibus-taxis and tour operators will have preferential access to the Atlantic Seaboard during the interventions. Those travelling in private vehicles may be stopped at these intersections and redirected back to where they were coming from until the traffic congestion has been alleviated to an acceptable level.
“Thus, private vehicles could be directed away from their desired destination for as long as it takes for the gridlock situation to subside,” said Mr Herron.
Table Mountain
Visitors to Table Mountain are also strongly advised to make use of the MyCiTi service as Kloof Nek Road becomes congested during the festive season. There is also limited parking available in the vicinity of the cableway station.
“The MyCiTi shuttle service to the Upper Table Mountain stop is free of charge, meaning visitors need only pay on Route 107 (Camps Bay) from the central business district to the top of Kloof Nek Road, where they can disembark at the Kloof Nek Stop situated at the Kloof Nek Road/Tafelberg Road intersection. From there, commuters should transfer to the Route 110 bus – the free Table Mountain shuttle service – to the Upper Tafelberg stop and disembark at the cableway station,” said Mr Herron.
The same applies to passengers who are departing from the cableway station: they embark at the Upper Tafelberg stop and will transfer to MyCiTi Route 107 at the Kloof Nek Stop at the Kloof Nek Road/Tafelberg Road intersection.
The free shuttle on Route 110 runs every 10 to 15 minutes.
Commuters are reminded that they need a myconnect card to travel on the MyCiTi bus service. A myconnect card can be purchased for R35 from selected station kiosks and participating retailers across the city.
The City will also extend the operating hours of the MyCiTi bus service on routes to the V&A Waterfront and Canal Walk, and the beaches on selected days during the festive season.
Visitors and residents are advised to visit the MyCiTi website at for more information about the timetable changes, or to phone the Transport Information Centre on 0800 65 64 63.
By Atlantic Sun

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Mixed views on sea report

Photographer Jean Tresfons aerial photograph that caused a stir last year.
The release of a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) report by the City of Cape Town confirming that sea marine wastewater outfalls pose no significant risk to human health and do not measurably affect inshore water quality or the wider environment, has been criticised by the local ratepayers’ association.
The report was commissioned after various concerns were raised by the public on the health impact for the marine environment and human health of the wastewater outfalls in Green Point, Camps Bay and Hout Bay.
Aerial shots, also appearing to show sewage on the Atlantic seaboard, went viral on social media in 2015.In a statement released at the end of last month, the City said a 24-month long study was commissioned by the City of Cape Town in response to concerns about the impact of the wastewater outfalls on the marine environment and human health.
It has also been reviewed by external scientists.
The City appointed the CSIR in 2015 to undertake a detailed assessment.
The study took place over a 24-month period starting in late 2015 and was completed in mid-2017.
Xanthea Limberg, the City’s mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, said: “The findings of the study have confirmed the City’s position that the outfalls are not outstripping the assimilative capacity of the ocean.
“It also found that there are no measurable risks to human health posed by the outfalls through either swimming at the beach or consumption of fish caught off our coastlines. In addition, near-shore pollution (when it occurs) is as a result of urban run-off. This is typical of all urban environments.”
Trends in the concentration of metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the tissue of black mussels and West Coast rock lobsters collected at sites along the Atlantic Seaboard of the Cape Peninsula in 2016 also provided no evidence that mussels or rock lobsters collected inshore of the outfalls had accumulated these chemicals to excessive concentrations in their tissue, the study found.
The City further stated that in addition to testing for the accumulation of synthetic chemicals, the study also looked at whether bacteria from the outfalls was reaching the bathing areas, finding that this was nothing for bathers to worry about. Bacteria dissipated within 300 metres of the diffusers (the outfalls are 1.7km off-shore), which is echoed by the results of their coastal waters monitoring programme, and the continued status of Camps Bay and Clifton as Blue Flag beaches.
Ms Limberg added: “Going forward, the City has developed an extensive monitoring programme with the assistance of four external expert marine scientists. This monitoring programme was submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs and will be implemented as part of our permit to operate the outfalls.”
Chris Willemse, chairperson of the Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers’ Association (CBCRA), said they were considering further action following the release of the report.
“We have seen the report and reject it in its entirety. It is deficient, misinformed and in fact dangerous.”
Mr Willemse added that the CBCRA would respond fully soon. “We are in discussions with our partners and various stakeholders.”
He added that certain things hadn’t been taken into account, such as the a new development at Maiden’s Cove and the impact that would have on the outfalls.
Mark Jackson, who directed the Bay of Sewage documentary on behalf of the CBCRA, said the report represented a waste of City funds.
“I believe that report was compromised by not being fully independent – the City supplied much of the
data for it and it was too limited in scope.”
Mr Jackson added: “The City must now concentrate on costing, and then building, proper, odourless, underground treatment and water recycling works, on public land at Maiden’s Cove, Green Point and Hout Bay. The City can no longer ignore their constitutional responsibility to properly treat sewage. And we all have a civic duty to hold them to account on this.”
However, not everyone shared the same views. Justin O’Riain, director of the Institute for Communities and Wildlife at UCT, said the report was comprehensive.
In the Atlantic Sun’s sister paper The Sentinel (“No human health risks” from sea marine outfalls”, Sentinel, November 24), he said: “It provides convincing evidence that despite our sewage being a potentially lethal cocktail of chemicals, heavy metals and bacteria, the effect on organisms living close to the outfall sites is negligible. Hence health risks to people using the inshore region along the Atlantic Seaboard from this source are clearly very low.
“Few would argue that we should aim to pollute neither the ocean nor rivers with waste generating activities and all citizens are encouraged to do so with the products that enter the sewerage system.
“Until we have funding for treatment plants that can return water without synthetic chemicals into rivers or our reticulation system, the current practice seems to be the only affordable way forward that does not severely impact the health of the wildlife.”

Water solutions should be discussed

Byron Herbert, Camps Bay and Clifton Residents’ and Ratepayer’s Association
In making these statements, Ms Limberg, as a City of Cape Town employee, appears to not have all the facts at her disposal, including surprisingly the results of her own marine biologist who she denied quoted his own findings of high levels of pharmaceutical bioaccumulation in the mussels near the Mouille Point Marine Sewage Outfall Point (MOP).
The group of professors from UWC, UCT and Stellenbosch who have been advising CBCRA, have done an intensive study of chemicals and pharmaceuticals found in Granger Bay, and interestingly enough just published their scientific findings in the November edition of the South African Journal of Science, which supplies undisputed evidence of the chemical and pharmaceutical concerns.
It would therefore be highly unprofessional and morally incorrect for CBCRA, knowing the severity of these public health concerns, not to make the general public aware of the potential health risks associated with desalinating from Granger Bay.
From what we are being told, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) report is a collaboration of the City of Cape Town taking and testing samples, and the CSIR reporting on the results as furnished to them by the City of Cape Town, rather than the CSIR doing the entire process themselves.
This is therefore not only questionable from an independent study perspective, but we are told the report is indeed only a “snapshot” of a much larger problem.
In addition, this report was completed purely for the requirements of a new permit application to discharge sewage into the sea, via the MOP and it therefore it is not nearly sufficient enough to draw conclusions for the long term health risks associated with desalination from this area.
The concern remains that under the banner “Emergency Relief, no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required, and as such in Ms Limberg’s words “there is no acute risk” to consumers (ie Immediate risk eg. food poisoning ).
However, what is not being commented on is the chronic risk (ie long-term risk, eg cancer) associated with bioaccumulation that the folk digesting water containing trace amounts of chemicals and pharmaceuticals would be potentially exposed to.
The elephant in the room that is yet to be understood, is what the additional impact of the highly toxic waste created from desalination known as brine will be.
We are told the brine is going to be pumped back through the same MOP, and thereby create a bizarre cyclical marine environment, of a potentially ever – increasing toxicity, from which water is being drawn for immediate pumping into our drinking water supply network.
Much is being said about this particular concern, and it would be refreshing if the City of Cape Town would agree to engage in an open professional forum to sit around the table to brainstorm problems and find sustainable solutions together.
In the meantime we can be thankful that our media has understood the severity of the concerns, and is sharing it with the public at large.

By letter to the editor