Upgrade for Sani Pass road

2011-10-19 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport has begun upgrading the Sani Pass road, which transects the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site near Himeville,

Sani Pass is the treacherous, spectacular mountain road that is the entry point into Lesotho from KZN.

It requires the use of 4x4 vehicles and advanced driving skills.

The upgrade entails a complete re-grading and resurfacing of the pass from gravel to a hardened surface, all-weather road.

The upgrade will include road widening, realignment of sections, new bridges, stormwater control and attenuation systems, bank and slope stabilisation and road servitude rehabilitation.

The department said upgrading the pass road is important for improving economic, social and commercial opportunities between Lesotho and South Africa.

It is expected that the provision of an all-weather road through Sani Pass will have a number of economic benefits.

For a start, the distance from Underberg and Mokhotlong for non-4x4 vehicles will be reduced by up to 350 km if the road is upgraded as proposed.

Non-4x4 vehicles have to enter Lesotho through the Free State and double back through Maseru and Mokhotlong.

The Eastern Lesotho Highlands could open up to potential tourism development, business and trade links between the Mokhotlong area and Underberg and Pietermaritzburg will be strengthened and extended.

Transportation and accessibility to Lesotho for locals from both sides of the escarpment will improve.

A new scenic route could potentially be opened up between the eastern Free State and KwaZulu-Natal via Lesotho.

Department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said work is already under way.

“We hope that the first four kilometres will be completed by next week and then we will begin the process of marking the road.

“The total project will measure about 13,7 km and we believe it will be completed by next year.”

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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