The Kouga Council has set out to find a permanent solution to the controversial causeway that connects Paradise Beach to Jeffreys Bay.
This follows a warning from experts that the unlawful breaching of the Seekoei River mouth has been increasing the safety risk to home-owners of properties located along the estuary.
Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said the problems at the causeway went back 40 years and that it was high time the municipality took these problems seriously and started working towards a permanent solution.
“We have great sympathy for residents who are concerned about their vehicles rusting when the water levels are high. We also understand that it is an inconvenience to use the alternative gravel road.
“Our preliminary investigations have, however, shown that while breaching the mouth helps to bring temporary relief to motorists, it actually compounds the problem by putting houses along the embankments at a higher risk of flooding,” she said.
She explained that the natural opening-and-closing cycle of the mouth had been severely disturbed because of the haphazard manner in which the causeway had been constructed. This, combined with the artificial breaching of the mouth, has further led to the extreme siltation of the estuary.
“It is this natural cycle which keeps the marine and plant life in the estuary healthy. The bad stench which is at times prevalent at the estuary is most often the result of fish and vegetation dying and rotting because the cycle has been broken,” she said.
“It is also because of this that the mouth no longer breaches naturally when the water level reaches a certain point.
“We’ve seen what happens to the causeway when there is heavy rain. More disturbing, is the increased risk that the embankments – where houses are located – will flood because the estuary has become too shallow to hold the water as it should.”
She said the Council has prioritised finding a permanent solution to the problem but cautioned that this could take time.
“We are, therefore, also looking at mitigating measures which can be introduced in the meantime to reduce the risk and inconvenience to motorists.”
She said the Council wanted to plea with residents to refrain from breaching the mouth unlawfully.
“As frustrating as it is, research shows that the short-term gains of breaching the mouth are grossly outweighed by the long-term negative effects.”
She said the municipality was already in consultation with the Department of Environmental Affairs about measures which could help reduce the risk to vehicles in the short term.
“We promise that we will be keeping residents updated about developments. This is a tough situation and there is no quick permanent fix. We will, however, not turn a blind eye to what is happening here. We have a responsibility to keep our people and their property safe.”