Vanishing Bikini Beach returned to its former glory

11 October 2018 - 07:00 By Bobby Jordan
A historic photo from 1928 shows the beach when the harbour was first built
A historic photo from 1928 shows the beach when the harbour was first built
Image: Supplied

Bikinis and sand do not generally concern public works minister Thulas Nxesi.

However on Wednesday a relaxed-looking Nxesi was introduced to a beach rescued by his department thanks to a successful dredging project at Gordon’s Bay harbour – which so far has produced 23‚000 cubic metres of sand.

Sand clogging up the harbour is being returned to where it is needed most – the popular Bikini Beach adjacent to the harbour‚ which had been stripped almost bare in recent years due to a combination of storm surge and absence of dredging replenishment. It is now being returned to its former glory‚ while the harbour mouth is again deep enough for larger vessels to pass.

The beach is a by-product of the harbour built in 1928‚ which dams up sediment along its southern breakwater.

Photo shows what the beach looks like now, with homes overlooking the ocean.
Photo shows what the beach looks like now, with homes overlooking the ocean.
Image: Bobby Jordan

Dredging of South Africa’s small boat harbours is one of several currently under way along the coast as part of a Public Works Special Intervention programme under the auspices of Operation Phakisa‚ the national job-creation programme. Other projects include slipway repair‚ infrastructure maintenance and salvaging of vessels inside seven of the 12 proclaimed small boat harbours.

In total 29 vessels have been salvaged inside seven harbours. Nxesi boarded a vessel on Wednesday to inspect the Gordon’s Bay dredging operation. He told journalists that harbour infrastructure had not been maintained properly. “This place was neglected. If you want proper economic activity (at the harbours) you need to do consistent maintenance‚” he said.

NSRI operations director Mark Hughes welcomed the long-awaited Gordon’s Bay dredging operation. A point had been reached where some boat owners had to push their boats across a sandbank to exit the harbour.

“We’ve had problems here for a number of years‚” Hughes said‚ adding that the sediment was a safety concern due to difficulties in launching NSRI vessels.

Gordon’s Bay Yacht Club commodore Alan Dawson appealed for ongoing dredging which would also create permanent employment. “This is a recurring problem. I see the potential to create ongoing employment‚” Dawson said.

Gordon’s Bay dredging project manager Gus Hojem said Bikini Beach was likely to expand further as the project continued. However the sand was likely to move back into the harbour as per its natural cycle‚ although engineers are hoping to slow the process by making the breakwater less porous.

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