New plan for harbours

Kalk Bay residents are weighing the impact a draft by-law, to let the City of Cape Town manage harbours, will have on the historic fishing village, although some say it can’t do worse than national government.

Heritage-rich Kalk Bay Harbour is both a working harbour and a key tourist destination.

The City lays blame for the deteriorating condition of the harbours squarely on the departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and Public Works (DPW).

Kalk Bay Harbour is owned by Public Works and managed by the DAFF because it has been declared a fishing harbour under the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998.

The City, unhappy with the job DAFF and Public Works are doing, argues it has a constitutional right to administer harbours in its municipal jurisdiction.

The draft Harbour By-Law, says deputy mayor Ian Neilson, will help it exercise that authority and “regulate how the national Department of Public Works, as owner of the harbours, manages them”.

He said the City had engaged with both DAFF and Public Works “for several years” to work out a “cooperative basis” to administer the harbours, but these efforts “had come to nought”, and the City had no choice but “forge ahead” with the proposed by-law, which is out for public comment until Saturday July 8.

“Our harbours cannot continue to be neglected and mismanaged, falling ever further into disrepair… Lack of professional management and maintenance has resulted in the serious degradation of these public assets, an increase in crime, and a failure to development their economic potential,” said Mr Neilson.

Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association chairman, Brian Youngblood has some reservations though.

“Personally, I wouldn’t want any authority to mess with a vibrant local hub like Kalk Bay. It has its own unique character, which I would hate to see change. If the City were to take over the management, I would like to see their funding, staffing and reporting structure. The City hasn’t managed the beaches very well, but then government hasn’t managed Kalk Bay very well either”.

Mr Youngblood said parking was a big problem at the harbour, because motorists had no way of knowing if it was full before turning in.

“It was proposed that an electronic counter of some sort could alert drivers by possibly placing a large red “X” in the turning lane or some such,” said Mr Youngblood.

The area’s ward councillor Aimee Kuhl, of the DA, believes the City will “ensure proper management” of harbours. Kalk Bay Harbour couldn’t afford to be mismanaged, she said, because it supported many livelihoods.

Tony Trimmel, the chairman of the Kalk Bay/St James Residents’ & Ratepayers’ Association, said the issue of the City managing the harbours had been in limbo for many years.

The association had “consistently said” that DAFF and Public Works had not done a good enough job looking after Cape Town’s harbours, but he felt “private enterprise” should also be considered when looking for an alternative management option.

He said security was a problem at Kalk Bay Harbour, including the beachfront below the viaduct and the railway arches. On top of that the area needed better waste management and adequate ablution facilities for visiting commercial fishing crewmen.