Berg cable-way risks becoming another ‘white elephant’

Johann Krog, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Economic Development and Tourism (ECOD)

Without a finalised business plan or buy in from private investors, the proposed Drakensburg cable way runs the very real risk of becoming yet another expensive ‘white elephant’.

This after a review of the cable project by a Pietermaritzburg-based Accounting and Tax Services questioned the financial viability of the project, in particular the assumption that up to 300 000 visitors would use the cable car every year.

Despite this, KZN ECOD MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu last week announced plans to push ahead with the 7km cable car route and to extend it by another 5km to link it to the Afriski ski resort in Lesotho and indirectly to the failed Nondela Drakensburg Mountain Estate.

The DA regards this announcement as premature on the part of the MEC.

The financial sustainability of the project is under question.  Nor does the cable way plan have the buy-in of surrounding local communities.  Meanwhile environmentalists have expressed major concerns over the impact that the scheme may have.

While the plan may look exciting on paper, another very real concern in this fairly remote corner of the Drakensburg is the surrounding infrastructure.

The roads are no state to support a massive tourism development and would need to be upgraded considerably before such a development took place.

Then there is also the issue of the safety of tourists themselves.

These are all factors that could severely affect the sustainability of such a project.

Despite the evidence before them, the KZN government has also failed to note international best practice, which shows clearly that tourism attractions located in remote areas run a very high risk of failure.

The DA expects the MEC to consider all of these factors before announcing his next move.