Repair of scenic tourist attraction must be prioritised

Edmund van Vuuren MPL

Spokesperson on Roads and Public Works

The scenic and historical R102 Bloukrans Pass between the Eastern- and Western Cape will remain closed to tourists, historians and nature lovers because the Eastern Cape administration does not regard the route a priority.

With tourism being a major economic contributor in this province, it is imperative that we use our assets to our fullest advantage.   The short-sighted approach by the Eastern Cape Department of Transport, Roads and Public Works is sad news for tourism and bad news for cash-strapped motorists who are being forced to continue paying high toll fees on the N2 between the Eastern and Western Cape.

The pass was closed due to dangerous conditions caused by heavy flooding, slip failures and rock falls.

According to a reply to a written question I asked the MEC for Transport, Roads and Public Works, Thandiswa Marawu, her department had no plans to carry out any maintenance on this road due to budgetary constraints and other priorities.  For the reply, click here.

The MEC’s remark that the Bloukrans Pass was “only really suitable as a scenic tourism route rather than a viable alternative route” is indeed shocking.

The scenery is the very reason why tourists flock to the Garden Route.  In addition the pass, built by master builder Thomas Bain, holds significant historical value.  Many regard it one of the most revered and respected engineering feats in the country, worthy of being declared a national monument.

In contrast to the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape government realises the value of the route.   Subsequently the Western Cape Provincial Roads Authority prioritised funding to repair its side of the pass.

The DA will petition the Eastern Cape government to prioritise efforts to secure significant capital funding from National Treasury for the rehabilitation of its side of the Bloukrans Pass.

We have many wonderful tourist assets in this province that we must use to their full potential in order to create jobs and opportunities.