Signage laws ‘affecting tourism’

2009-09-28 00:00

THE South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has been criticised by locals for the stringent regulations regarding tourism signage along the highway.

The African Bird of Prey Sanctuary (ABPS), which is located directly off the N3 between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, is one of the local tourism destinations that have failed to get approval for N3 signage from Sanral.

ABPS chief executive officer, Shannon Hoffman, said although the conservation organisation showcases unique natural heritage aspects, they have not been able to secure proper road signage for the closest intersection — Exit 65 off the N3.

“Even armed with maps, many travellers phone from the highway asking for directions, as they are expecting to find direction signage.

“It is becoming quite embarrassing to continually explain to guests that despite their needs, [Sanral] will not facilitate them.

“We believe that, in our rural situation, highway road signage is in fact essential to ensure safe and easy access for both these foreign guests and our own school children travelling in buses,” she said.

Hoffman said what makes the situation worse is that the Lion Park and the zoo, which are down the road from them, do have signage at Exit 65.

Pietermariztburg Tourism director, Melanie Veness, said: “I think it’s a huge pity to wrap people up in red tape when we’re trying to grow our area. They are completely rigid and will not consider signage applications on an individual basis — regardless of logic or merit.”

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB) chief executive officer, Andrew Layman, said he understands that there are rules governing signage on national roads, but he would like them to be reviewed.

“I’m not suggesting a plethora of adverts, just more signage to support local tourism,” he said.

Sanral acting regional manager, Ravi Ronny, said advertising on national roads is governed by regulations and in order to ensure nation-wide uniformity, all regions have to conform.

“Giving ad-hoc approvals not in compliance with the regulations will result in precedents being set which is unacceptable,” he said.

Ronny said in terms of tourism signage, approval is only granted if the national road is the nearest route­d road to the facility.

“Sanral frequently receives applications for such facilities, which have to be rejected because of the reasons stated above. In addition, Sanral is not in favour of having [a] cluster of signs adjacent to national roads, hence facilities like bed and breakfasts and other local destinations are not signposted,” he said.

• Visit and click on “legislation” for more on the law.

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