Durban @ night

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Things have been a bit quiet on the photographic front. Not so much on the taking, as on the processing side. Nevertheless, I did like this one taken at the weekend on a trip downtown. It’s made up three of stitched images and would have made a much wider panorama, had not the fourth picture been as soft as something out of a Canon 😉

I should have shot a couple more safety shots but it came on to rain and there was plenty of lightning around, not the healthiest time to be one of the highest points in the city.

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New stadium

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Here’s one I took on our photo club’s walkabout on Durban beachfront last Saturday. It shows the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which is due for completion for next year’s football world cup.

I like the picture very much and I’m pleased to report that pro-South African, pro-World Cup, pro-just-about-everything, blogger Fred Hatman thinks so too, and has featured it on his excellent website.

Our photowalk was very enjoyable but the atmosphere was slightly ruined when some of us were stopped by the cops and warned about the dangers of wandering around the beachfront after dark and, especially, about not getting separated from the group. We apparently were too much of a tempting tempting target, loaded down as we were with camera bags and stuff.

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The coastal cloaca

Last Sunday, which was December 21, 2008, I had a bit of a sad experience. With a a couple of passengers, I had occasion to drive from the Morningside, Burman Bush area, over to the Botanic Gardens, and from there to Essenwood Road, and then down through town to the Point area and back to Morningside. The town has a dilapidated air with pavements which were unswept, and had not been for many moons, judging by the size of the weeds. Street furniture was badly in need of painting, potholes were proliferating in the roads and it was not only the busy downtown areas that are affected in this way, but even the leafy streets in the suburbs were looking down at heel and badly in need of attention.

To say that Point Road, around the the intersections of West and Smith Street is looking squalid, is to be guilty of a gross understatement. The beachfront is our crown jewel, which tourists should be paying big bucks to visit, and yet it is being ruined, and I don’t know the cause. Is it greedy building owners, a huge influx of poor people to the area, crime? What? Whatever factors are at work, they must be identified and sorted or we are going to end up as some sort of coastal cloaca. Ever fewer people are going to want come here.

Having travelled a fair way through town on Sunday, it was inevitable and that we would come across another problem which is plaguing Durban at the moment. The matter is, of course, the fact that there are so many malfunctioning traffic lights and, although I can’t accurately remember exactly how many were not working, it was more than a double-handful.

By a strange, well perhaps not so strange, coincidence, the Sunday Tribune of the same day, December 21, carried a story headlined “Berea Road’s killer corners”. In the story, it was reported that faulty traffic lights have been causing havoc at a number of locations in Berea Road. These are the bridges at Essenwood Road and Musgrave Road and the robots have apparently not been working for three weeks. At least 30 accidents were reported from those locations in the last three weeks. In spite of this ongoing problem, City Police pointsmen had not been deployed in the area, which is one of the most busiest in the city. There is a picture heading the story which shows absolute chaos with cars going every which way trying to get through the intersection. An onlooker reported city policemen on a bridge over Berea Road operating a speed trap, but totally unconcerned with traffic chaos at occurring not a couple of yards from where they sat.

In the Natal Mercury of December 22, 2008, there is a reader’s letter which notes that city management, because they live here, must pass these intersections and others like them every day, and yet they do nothing. The reader is is quite right to raise this point and you can’t begin to understand how these people can neglect their own home in such a fashion.

The Sunday Tribune article of the 21st, said that a contractor was responsible for repairing the traffic lights and the questions should be asked why the city’s own staff is not being used for this task, and why, failing that, the contractors are not being supervised adequately.

The Durban streets that we travel in every day are not yet looking quite like the streets of Zimbabwe or the other third-world troublespots that we see so so regularly in the news. But they are deteriorating and will start to look that way before too much longer.
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Bus troubles again

The Mercury of November 25, 2008, reported that the Durban bus service could come to halt next January. The bus operator Remant Alton has apparently not receive national transport subsidies from December to March. The company apparently gets R11.5 million per month and will therefore be R46 million short over the festive season area. Erik Moller, deputy head of the city’s transport authority, admitted that it was a big problem said he believed that the best solution would be if the money came from the National Treasury or that the province could come to the assistance of the company. The current municipal subsidy of R10 million was apparently still be paid to Remant Alton by the municipality.

In other news, it appears that contestants from the Miss world 2008 competition will be in town for a couple of days, starting on Wednesday, November 26, 2008. 112 contestants will apparently be in the city for photo shoots on the beach and at the Beverly Hills Hotel, before proceeding to Johannesburg for the competition. Hope they don’t get ill swimming at our non-Blue Flag beaches!

The paper reported that Enden Refinery should be back in operation by mid-January after a disastrous fire shut down the installation two weeks ago. The fire was apparently caused by mechanical failure on a pump.
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Point watersports good news

The Mercury of November 7, 2008, reports that a long-running acrimonious disagreement between the city and various watersports clubs based around Vetch’s Pier has been solved. The Durban Point Development Company and the city were very keen to get the clubs to move from their prime beach locations. The developers have apparently now agreed to accommodate the clubs in premises adjacent to the new North Pier in the mooted Point Marina.

This was announced at a function held in a marquee in Timeball Square on Thursday in what was to be the announcement that the Environmental Impact Assessment concerning the building of the Marina had been approved. The approval has not yet been granted and it might take months longer.

I’m not usually in favour of the buraucratic process (particularly slow in our case) but this time I’m wondering if approval would be merited. Building a nice marina just outside the harbour entrance sounds like a hell of a good idea on a nice calm sunny day, but it overlooks the fact that this area was known as extremely dangerous. To prove it, there are literally dozens wrecks of ships within sight of where the new structure is to be built. The wall needed keep out the 1-in-a-100-year and 1-in-a-50-year high tides and storm surges, which we seem to be getting quite frequently of late, would need to be mighty indeed.
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Blue Flag rears its head again

The Mercury of October 6, 2008, reported that Blue Flag status was awarded to four beaches in KZN excluding Durban, which unfortunately decided to back out of the scheme. The awards were made at a function held at San Lameer on the KZN South Coast on Tuesday. A new fact that that was revealed by local Blue Flag manager Alison Kelly was that Durban-based hospitality groups were so concerned by the city’s decision to go it alone that they approached the Blue Flag organisation in an effort to take over responsibility for getting the beaches into shape.. The request was apparently refused because attaining Blue Flag status did not have municipality support.
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The litter crisis widens

The Natal Mercury, of September 30, 2008, reports that Durban Solid Waste workers trashed the city yesterday, emptying litter bins onto the pavement and obstructing traffic. The workers were demonstrating in solidarity with the striking bus drivers and because they now also want to become full-time employees of the city???? It comes as news to me that they aren’t.

In the same issue of the Mercury, there is a follow-up report on the chaos and litter left on the beachfront last Friday night by celebrating pupils. Metro Police spokesperson Supt. Joyce Khuzwayo is quoted as saying the force had not anticipated the influx of revellers. She said buses loaded with pupils had come from as far afield as the Eastern Cape.

It would probably infringe on their human rights so I don’t suppose we could turn them away at Tollgate in future. Next time, let’s ban all glass containers and get enough police and army to keep a lid on things when they start going pear-shaped.

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Beachfront trashed

Making the front page of The Sunday Tribune, of September 28, 2008, is report describing the horrific amount of litter, including huge quantities of broken glass, left on the beachfront on Friday night, September 26. The carnage was put down to youngsters celebrating the end of the school year but the party must have been a far cry from those in my day. We just wouldn’t have been allowed to run riot and smash glass to the extent that people had to turn from the beaches the next day because it wasn’t safe to walk.

A former municipal employee apparently contacted the Metro Police and was told that they had only had 20 staff on duty on Friday night who were unable to control the situation. I didn’t see the devastation but I did got through town at about 6:30 on Saturday morning and, to say that the streets were disgustingly littered, would be a gross understatement.

We have time and money to change street names and build vast new stadiums but we don’t have enough money for esssentials like adequate policing and, for that matter, enough firemen to do the job of keeping us safe.

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