Coastal erosion: Seychelles authorities building sea wall at tourism hotspot
With the aim of mitigating and adapting to coastal erosion, Seychelles’ Climate Change Department is building a sea wall along a part of Beau Vallon’s main beach to stabilise the area from the adverse effect of climate change.
Beau Vallon, a northern Mahe district, is one of the most popular tourist spots and has one of the most beautiful beaches on the main island. It is one of 18 priority areas being affected by coastal erosion.
The 18 areas were outlined in the Seychelles Coastal Management Plan 2019-2024, which was put together after coastal surveys were conducted by the World Bank. The plan suggests measures and ways of mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change and continuous coastal erosion.
SNA spoke with the department’s senior climate adaptation officer, Annie Simeon, who said that “It is true that the coastal erosion is seasonal whereby during certain monsoons you can observe sand accretion or sand loss, however, the amount of sand that comes back during sand accretion period is always less than the amount of sand that is washed away.”
Simeon outlined that the coastal rehabilitation project will be implemented in three phases.
Phase one is the continuation of a sea wall from the Savoy Resort to La Plage restaurant. In phase two, the sea wall construction will pick up from La Plage and end at the dive centre found next to the Baobab restaurant. These two phases have been contracted out to United Concrete Products Seychelles (UCPS) and Benoiton Construction Company Limited (BCCL) respectively.
The wall will go around the trees and towards the section opposite the boathouse. It will also help to safeguard the current Department of Information Communication Technology (DICT) cable landing station and the main road infrastructure connecting to the northern side of the island.
“UCPS has already started works offsite. This includes pre-casting works. Once preparations are completed, they will start to move on site. The department has worked in collaboration with DICT. DICT has already completed the reinforcement works around their existing manhole to be able to cater for the seawall,” said Simeon.
The officer said that the third phase of the project was already completed in 2021 and that was rock armouring and lining the river channel next to Baobab restaurant.
The wall is not being built close to the road but in the sand. (Dominic Mancienne) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
She explained that phase three was completed first as it was easier to implement as compared to the other two. The entire project, which is being funded by the Environmental Trust Fund (ETF), will cost approximately SCR4 million ($282,000).
The wall being built is an extension of an already existing sea wall in the area that begins at the Coral Strand Hotel and ends where an outdoor gym is found. This wall has now been integrated into the Golden Mile project that was initiated in 2011.
Simeon said that the department is facing some challenges when it comes to the implementation of the project as “vendors and people using the project area are refusing to relocate for the duration of the project implementation. As long as they don’t move, the contractor cannot start the work on site.”
Some inhabitants of Beau Vallon expressed concerns about the development in a public meeting organised by the elected Member of the National Assembly for the district of Beau Vallon, John Hoareau, on June 12.
SNA spoke to Richard Mancienne, the owner of Boathouse, who attended the meeting. Mancienne said that he is against the building of the wall because “we do not have an erosion problem in the area. We have the opposite of erosion, an accumulation of sand. So to build a wall to stop erosion doesn’t make sense.”
Mancienne said he has proposed that “instead of building a wall in the beach it should be built alongside the road as part of the golden mile so that it is not in the sand but on the soil like a pavement around a foot high to stop water coming up on the road that happens once or twice a year.”