BY MOSES MUGUGUNYEKI
From afar, the much-hyped Binga sand beach sounds like “one of the Seven Wonders of the World”.
However, when you visit the place that lines Lake Kariba’s southern shore, there is really nothing much to talk about.
For now it’s not worth the hype.
The sand beach, which is a stone’s throw away from Binga centre, is just a mound of sand with nothing much to write home about.
It’s a potential revenue generating venture that has been allowed to die and there is no indication of any efforts to turn it into a tourist attraction.
Even the first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s desire to visit the beach hit a brick wall due to the sorry state of the place, sources in Binga said.
Mnangagwa had gone to Binga during one of her charity excursions and had revealed her wish to visit the sand beach.
Her visit, it is alleged, was scrapped off her schedule although the steep slope road that leads to the beach had some touch-ups in preparation for her arrival.
The sand beach is under the joint control of Binga Rural District Council as well as the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority [Zimparks].
Residents in Binga said the sand beach, just like any other tourist spot around the district, was poorly maintained and neglected.
“As small as it is, if this beach had been developed and taken care of, it would have been one of the biggest tourist spots in this part of the country,” said Sydney Muleya, a resident.
“There is a lot of scenery downhill as you go to the beach and elephants roam around the area as well. There is so much to offer around the beach as well as in other places here in Binga.”
What worries Muleya is that people go to the beach with no safety guidelines in place.
“It’s just a free for all. You have to go there at your own peril. If you drown or if you are attacked by wild animals, there is no one close to assist you. You go there at your own risk,” Muleya said.
A recent visit to the beach by this publication showed that the stretch of sand had the potential to offer a wealth of activities including water sports, scenic walks and facilities for outdoor events.
There is no information about the status of the beach and services on offer and there is no safety messaging in the absence of lifeguards who are not there.
No one is around the area to ensure that the beach and its surroundings are kept clean. Litter including used condoms, empty beverage bottles and plastics were strewn all over the place.
There are no toilets and those, who want to relieve themselves go to the nearby bushes, which are frequented by wild animals.
The only structures that are there are decapitated buildings that could have been used several years ago.
Muleya believes if well developed, the beach has a lot to offer including activities like surfing, casting, lounging, and exploring.
“We wait to see if the government develops the place. Efforts have been made to spruce up the place and some lodge operators have tried to use the beach to attract customers, but it has hit a brick wall because there is nothing. It’s just talk, talk and talk with no action,” he said.
Binga Rural District Council is yet to advertise inviting investors since it promised to do so in May last year.
Council CEO Joshua Muzamba could not be reached for comment.
Zimparks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said they have embarked on a number of strategies aimed at promoting domestic tourism, including the refurbishment of the Binga sand beach.
“We are making that place attractive so that we promote tourism in that area.
“Remember this is the same area that has the hot springs and other tourist attractions,” Farawo said.
“Just like what the Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said with regard to Binga, that we need to develop that virgin area and attract tourists.
“The Binga sand beach development is part of our strategic plan and we are doing everything that we can to promote tourism and make that place attractive.”