Lifeline thrown to crumbling Kowie pier

Posted On Friday, 04 May 2007 02:00 Published by
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Port Alfred's cash strapped municipality has been thrown a financial lifeline by worried Royal Alfred Marina home owners and local businessmen who have initiated attempts to try to save the town's historic West Pier from falling into the sea.

Construction IndustryWidespread damage was caused to the pier and a marina bank on the Kowie River by recent heavy swells and a spring high tide that wreaked havoc along large stretches of South Africa's coastline.

On Wednesday, the Ndlambe Municipal council agreed in principle to accept an offer from the Royal Alfred Marina Homeowners' Association (Ramhoa) of a R600,000 loan for repairing sinkholes on the pier and marina bank.

But they referred the matter for further investigation before making a final decision. Issues included ownership of the pier, legal aspects of the proposed loan and interest rates on the amount.

Last week, two businessmen set up a trust fund and agreed to donate R6,000 each to try to save the pier. Their initiative gained steam and won the support of the Port Alfred Business Forum and other businesses who have offered transport, expertise and materials free of charge.

Marina developer and Ramhoa chair, Justin De Wet Steyn, last night told the Daily Dispatch that over the past 18 years home owners had built up a considerable "emergency war chest" which they were prepared to dig into to finance the loan.

"If we do not address the problems soon, we could be faced with a potential catastrophe. We cannot afford to wait another three months for the next (municipal) financial year. If the pier is damaged further, the river will silt up and this will affect business and tourism," he warned.

Three years ago, Ramhoa came to the town's rescue when they loaned a similar amount to the municipality to upgrade antiquated pumps that were hampering the ever-expanding seaside resort's water supply capabilities.

The money was repaid the following financial year at the same interest it would have received in the Ramhoa bank account.

At the council meeting on Wednesday it was proposed that Ramhoa be approached with a request to make repayment of the loan for the 2008/9 financial year instead of three months' time.

De Wet Steyn said the municipality had inherited years of neglect and were trying to solve many other problems in the town.

"Fortunately, we have a trained crew of rock packers who have spent years building the marina canals. They are about to be retrenched and we have offered these guys to the municipality to do the work," he said.

During the council meeting it emerged that several approaches had been made to Portnet over the years to try to establish ownership of the pier.

Explaining how the town had fruitlessly "tried everyone for years" to fix the pier, DA councillor Louise Swanepoel said: "The Ndlambe Municipality cannot turn down help."


Last modified on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 21:05

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