Student village may be under flood threat

JON HOUZET

A PROPOSED development to accommodate
hundreds of Stenden South African students will not be able to go ahead unless
the municipality resolves stormwater and sewerage problems, the developers have
admitted.

Port Alfred geologist Dawie van Wyk raised
concerns over the proposed Anchor
Village in the valley
between Muller Drive
and Hards Street
after seeing how the area was affected by last month’s floods.

Van Wyk used a contour map and photographs
to estimate the valley had been flooded with 181-million litres of rainwater at
the 13m mark above sea level – the height of the flood. It covered a 17.2ha
area and affected more than 20 homes.

He expressed concern about the proposed Anchor Village
development still being advertised as a “viable investment”.

He contacted the marketing agents,
Sotheby’s, and told them it was “unethical to advertise a development that’s
under water”.

Amanda Broom of the developers, Wize Up
Deals, and her development and marketing team met with Van Wyk over his
concerns on Tuesday.

Riaan Moller, the consulting engineer for Anchor Village,
denied that the developers were “unethical or irresponsible”.

He said Wize Up Deals had come up with
contingency plans, such as a retaining wall and raising the level of the entire
development to one metre higher than the flood level.

Broom said two of the 12-unit three-storey
blocks would be relocated so they would not be affected by flooding.

They had already sold 18 units and none of
their buyers had pulled out, she said.

“We’ve all learnt from this,” said Moller.

But he and Broom acknowledged that a
permanent solution was needed for stormwater problems.

“We’re not going to develop until we know
the municipality is going to resolve the sewerage and stormwater problems at
the base of the valley,” said Broom.

But she said they could not afford to stop
marketing the development in the meantime.

“We can’t scrap the development because we
say the municipality is not going to do something,” said Moller.

He said he had offered his expertise to the
municipality free of charge and acknowledged the stormwater solution proposed
by Stewart Scott consulting
engineers nine years ago needed to be implemented.

“If it means we must put pressure on the municipality
to accept these offers of advice and help, then we must do it,” said Moller.

“We’re confident that with the shock
they’ve had, the municipality will somehow come up with a plan,” said Broom.

“We will not lose confidence in our local
authority,” added Moller.

“This flood is like divine intervention,”
said Van Wyk. “What people have been concerned about they (the developers) can
now see with their own eyes.

Municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa did not
respond to queries about how the municipality would handle the proposed
development.

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