8 November, 2018 8 November, 2018

Day 1: Umgeni River Bank Cleanup ft. The Litterboom Project

The cross-country Corona Coastal Cleanup Tour headed up by Frank Solomon, has officially kicked off. The trip stretching from Durban to Cape Town, will see Frank visit various NGO’s, marine biologists, shark specialists and other local experts, all fighting for the longevity of our oceans. These local experts aim to highlight the shocking effects of how marine pollution is affecting our coastline’s natural beauty. 

Day one saw Frank meet up with Cam Service from MyTrails an initiative that focusses on a litter catchment system to collect rubbish along three rivers in Durban, with the principal setup along the Umgeni river. 

Following a conversation and site visit with Cam, Frank with help from the Durban Green Corridor and volunteers from the neighbouring community rolled up their sleeves and got elbow deep in cleaning up the spewed up synthetic guts of the Umgeni river. Although a monumental effort was made on the day, the amount of plastic still left along the banks was enough to make a grown man cry, serving as a testament to the fact that the problem is by far an easy fix.  

Unbeknownst to many, the Umgeni is the most polluted river in the country and without projects such as the Litterboom and the selfless act of cleaning up after someone else, the amount of plastic that would make its way out to sea would be far worse. Every bit of plastic plucked from the natural environment and discarded appropriately, goes a long way in making a difference both on a short term and long term scale.  

Initiated in 2017, the Umgeni Litterboom Project- ULP- is geared toward alleviating the pressure placed on the waterway by stemming the flow of rubbish flowing through the river system.       

Multiple variables contribute to the issue, and in response, the project aims to adopt a comprehensive strategy to better deal with the growing concern of plastics.

Presently, the project is working on improving the current model and the overall effectiveness of the system, by way of catching plastic bags that are able to escape the “litterbooms” as they pass below the surface within the water column. As it stands or floats rather, the system is effective in trapping a large amount of surface debris as it is washed down the Umgeni. 

The biggest challenge facing the Litterboom Project is funding, with permanent staff a close second as it currently operates on a rather small scale. The project is by no means a solution to the greater issue of marine plastic but it certainly holds promise as an effective short to mid-term ‘band-aid’.

Some of the instrumental people involved in the project have been: Shipmed- project investor; Durban Green Corridor- Eco Tourism NPO; MyTrails; Bart Fokkens- Waterman and conservationist            

For more information on how you can help keep the Litterboom Project alive click HERE


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