Tourism slumps as Oliviershoek Pass road reaches ‘expiry date’

2012-08-05 00:00

THE R74 Oliviershoek Pass road has become a nightmare for business owners and residents in the Bergville and Winterton areas.

The route, which used to attract many tourists, is badly potholed and has unmanned stop-go stretches.

Thriving businesses like the Little Switzerland Hotel warn their timeshare and chalet guests to “proceed with extreme caution” and closed their hotel on May 1 after losing too many customers due to the poor road condition.

Mlungisi Ndlangisa, manager in the office of the mayor at Okhahlamba Local Municipality, said they were aware of the problem and were working on resolving it.

“We are currently preparing a document that will be presented to the national Transport Department,” he said.

Ndlangisa told The Witness that the bad part of the road was in the Free State province, not KwaZulu-Natal.

“The Free State appointed a company to fix the road, but somewhere along the way they stopped working. We were told that there were problems between the [Free State] government and the contractor.”

He said tourism was also affected.

“Tourists are no longer using that road and businesses are suffering.”

Tania van der Walt, who works at the Caltex garage in Bergville, situated close to the R74, said they have had a bad year.

“We have lost hundreds of cars. Our main source of business is people coming from Johannesburg visiting Drakensberg, but they are no longer coming,” she said.

She said people were no longer using Oliviershoek Pass, but using Van Reenen’s Pass instead.

“We are only getting local clientele and have had to cut down on expenses to save money.

KZN Transport Department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said the department was working on the issue. “Many roads in the province have reached their expiry dates and the R74 is one of them. The road is very old and damaged.”

He said the problem would not be fixed overnight. “We appeal to people to be patient with us. We are committed to turning the road back to its old condition.”

A Bergville resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the road was worse than a farm road. There were potholes 30 cm deep and the road “is full of stones. It is absolutely terrible.”

The Automobile Association (AA) is aware of this problem and has also tried to get it sorted out.

AA spokesperson Gary Ronald told The Witness the road had been left completely alone. “The contractor on the R74 stopped working about a year ago. It is absolutely criminal that a major route would influence business because of the lack of a road.”

About two months ago the AA wrote to the national departments of transport and tourism and the Treasury.

The Presidency was copied.

“We sent a letter voicing our concerns and asking for remedial action. We haven’t had a response.”

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

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.