Cable car pipe dream

2014-01-20 00:00

A REVIEW of the business plan for the R500 million cable car in the Drakens­berg has raised serious concerns about the financial viability of the project.

Newman Accounting and Tax Services, which did the review for African Conservation Trust and Wilderness Action Group, said the business plan drawn up for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Affairs and Tourism does not indicate how there will be a 526% increase in visitors to the Drakensberg region, enough to make the proposed cable car sustainable.

The business plan also does not indicate any market research done to indicate that visitors will pay R350 per adult and R200 per child to go on the cable car, given that the prices are more than most of the other cable cars in the world, the review said.

A regular round trip on the Table Mountain cable car costs R215, according to the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway’s website.

Department of Economic Development and Tourism spokeperson Bheko Madlala said yesterday that not all cableways are equal and there is great variability in length, location and purpose.

“Comparable cableways around the world that offer similar increases in altitude or length typically cost approximately double the proposed R350 return fare,” said Madlala.

“The success of the cableway lies primarily with the ticket price and number of tickets sold. The business plan does not adequatelty address these key aspects,” according to the review.

In fact, the business plan quotes no market research.

The review also said capital costs were likely to be higher than expected because of rand depreciation and a failure to consider the maintenance and design requirements of a difficult operating environment in the Drakensberg, compared with other cable cars. In addition, the business plan did not consider the additional cost of having to take sewage down the cableway, according to the review.

The review also quotes Sabine Lehmann, managing director of Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company: “I think visitor numbers [in the Drakensberg] are too small for the project to cover its costs … an attraction such as a boardwalk or treetop walkway could be just as attractive at a fraction of the cost.”

Madlala said they were doing a full consultative process with all stakeholders. A meeting of more than 15 000 people late last year gave the project “a ringing endorsement”, and the project was given the “thumbs up” at a meeting of businessmen in December, said Madlala.

Sigungu Miya, the spokesperson for the traditional leadership of the AmaZizi, said in a statement the DEDT had never formally introduced the proposed Busingatha cableway “to the late Nkosi Miya and they have never come to consult at the AmaZizi tribal office”.

The cable car will traverse the land of the AmaZizi community.

“Contrary to the claims of some people, Inkosi Miya never agreed to have the cableway in our area … We do not want this cableway in our area,” said Miya.

The DEDT said the development approval process is set to start once the public consultations are over. A number of views for or against the project had been received.

“A product of this nature will attract holiday-makers from a wider circle than what the northern Drakensberg attracts at present. As for the issue of the funding model, we are looking at a number of funding models which will be announced once the public consultation is over,” Madlala said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.