KwaZulu-Natal Transport Department to pay damages for injuries sustained in Sani Pass accident.

A recent determination by courts ordered the KwaZulu-Natal Transport Department to pay 70 percent of the damages claimed by Australian Murray Eastman for injuries he sustained in a 2005 motor vehicle incident on Sani Pass.  The Australian man and his wife Jane were visiting South Africa on holiday when their vehicle slid off the road due to slippery road conditions, leaving Eastman a paraplegic.  Although locals had complained of unsafe road conditions, the department could not prove that the pass had been adequately maintained. Also found responsible for the remaining 30 percent of liability was the driver of the vehicle. The court evidence showed that he was travelling at unsafe speeds, despite the bad weather and road conditions. A recent budget allocation of 1 billion Rand to the Transportation Department will include funds for road maintenance, including the Sani Pass.

For more information refer to these links:

http://www.witness.co.za/index.php?showcontent&global[_id]=24434

http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=15&art_id=vn20070228023445825C303836

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Coeta's Avatar
Coeta replied to: #69674 02 Sep 2016 08:43

HFc wrote: Whether for or against this...this is likely to be the same as both Sterkfontein Road and Sentinel Road 'upgrades'.

Going slowly at first, then going nowhere, then going backwards.


Seems prophetic.
Macc's Avatar
Macc replied to: #69673 02 Sep 2016 08:40
The pass is still all dirt and gravel but it becomes tar from the Lesotho border post at the top. Quite an impressive tar road actually. Was there in June and there was absolutely no sign of construction on the SA side.
Coeta's Avatar
Coeta replied to: #69672 02 Sep 2016 08:03
Anyone have a recent update on progress of this upgrade, maybe you were in the area?

I searched online, but cannot find updates to progress or current state of upgrade.

Did it start? How far are they if so?
HFc's Avatar
HFc replied to: #64169 08 Jun 2015 15:21
Whether for or against this...this is likely to be the same as both Sterkfontein Road and Sentinel Road 'upgrades'.

Going slowly at first, then going nowhere, then going backwards.
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #64161 07 Jun 2015 21:57
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #63185 26 Mar 2015 10:41
Anyone know the current status - I'm hoping to go up next weekend.

Also - any ideas for a less expensive way of going up? Sani Top charges R250 pp each way, I'm hoping there is a cheaper option. We currently have a team of 6. Still kind of hoping that someone with a 4X4 will join the group :laugh:
JonWells's Avatar
JonWells replied to: #62905 26 Feb 2015 12:49
susanalkema's Avatar
susanalkema replied to: #62904 26 Feb 2015 10:48
Hi Guys, would anyone know what the status is of the Sani pass at the moment? Who could i contact?
Spykid's Avatar
Spykid replied to: #62657 20 Jan 2015 12:31
Saw this pictures from the past weekend. It was not closed apparently but undo able with certain vehicles.




ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #62620 16 Jan 2015 14:49
According to Mountain Backpackers on FB, Sani has been closed due to part of the road collapsing:
newton's Avatar
newton replied to: #61016 06 Jun 2014 20:36
Reading what Stefangrab wrote about the road in Lesotho where they are tarring the section between Sani Pass and Mokhotlong-I'm wondering what this section looks like at the moment. A year ago we travelled this section. I don't know a lot about road building but to me it looked as if they didn't really do a lot to stabilize the areas next to the road and the rivers downstream of the new roads were like mud. Does anybody know if they did something to stabilise the soil?
Serious tribe's Avatar
Serious tribe replied to: #60991 05 Jun 2014 01:56
If they do decide to tar it, despite all protestations from eia's. Could they not use some form of course gravel impregnated into the tar surface, sought of like a course sand paper effect to help prevent vehicles skidding because of black ice.
Viking's Avatar
Viking replied to: #60913 30 May 2014 11:33
The DEA's ease with which they "change their mind" does not bode well for the cable-car EIA and resulting DEA recommendation.
ASL's Avatar
ASL replied to: #60910 30 May 2014 11:25
dumb us of our tax money again... :thumbsdown:

I see the environment impact is not a priority either as our Government has taken a 3rd world attitude to this aspect
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #60907 30 May 2014 07:58

Nor had it been “conclusively demonstrated” that a hard surface for the Sani Pass would bring large benefits to substantial numbers of people, said Suchet.


This seems to be a common conclusion in evaluating these proposals.
stefangrab's Avatar
stefangrab replied to: #60905 29 May 2014 21:03
There are likely bigger matters at stake here than we might realize. Lesotho is currently having the road tarred from Mokhotlong to Sani Pass (top). And the Chinese construction crew are plundering the area .....with litter, digging up soft wetland soils as these are a good base for levelling the new road, dumping waste onto wetlands and quarrying slopes at lib. A bloody nightmare up there and no environmental oversight.

Anyway...there has to be a reason to upgrade this road.....and there would be no point doing this, if the Sani Pass section were not tarred. I suspect that the Lesotho government is putting on pressure on SA...and they can as they have the water! So I suspect there are much bigger economic powers controlling this matter.

Personally, I have seen tarred roads go up in Lesotho, I have given my advice and warnings, which have not been heeded, and subsequently seen the tarred surfaces disintegrate in a matter of a few years. The problem is that the constructions are using cheapest options and not made to last.

Sani Pass is problematic as the upper bends are in deep shadow throughout winter and ground seepage (i.e. from subsurface) will cause frost heave. The problem is compounded when adding salt, as the salt crystals further disintegrate the asphalt. Once this happens, the process accelerates as moisture penetrates fractures, where both salt and ice crystals further destroy the surface. This can be overcome through specially designed and engineered surfaces that require substantial foundations - whether this will happen we'll see. If it is the usual asphalt ...then it won't last much longer than a few years if we'r lucky. Then the best option will be to remove the tarr...and we'll have our dirt road back...a bit like the road between Ox-Bow and Mokhotlong (although that is now being tarred for the second time...and should be better given that the Italians are involved).

Finally - yes, the road will be much more dangerous and prone to accidents, esp in winter ....as is the case every winter up Moteng Pass. The reasons for this is that even a little ice will get vehicles skidding off the road, whilst ice on a gravel surface still offers traction through gravels and stones etc.

In my view, tarring the road has political undertones, and is indeed utterly devastating to tourism, the environment and very sadly, may result in loss of lives and injuries in years to come.

We need to all get together with our mnt bikes and cycle this road for old times sake!
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #60903 29 May 2014 19:45
Two articles were written by Steven Coan in The Witness which provide much more clarity and detail.

The DoT first proposed that the Sani Pass road be tarred all the way to the 2 865-metre high summit of the pass in 2005. Phase one of the project, involving the first 14 km of road, over relatively flat terrain, was quickly approved and work began in 2006. It took six years to complete and cost R200 million.
In 2007, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) process commenced for phase two — the 19 km section to the summit. A scoping report proposed six alternatives, ranging from “doing nothing” to driving a tunnel through the top of the mountain. The KZN DoT’s preferred option was alternative five: a tarred hard surface, but no tunnel.
Following the release of the draft EIA in 2011 most of the specialist studies recommended alternative three, which called for a gravel surface together with improved road drainage.
In the final report submitted to the DEA, KZN DóT recommended the hard surface go ahead.
However, the DEA opted for alternative three and accordingly issued an environmental authorisation to that effect on July 2.

Sani Pass road tarring goes ahead


The subsequent appeal against this decision by the KZN DoT and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife was opposed by the Southern Drakensberg Community Tourism Organisation (SDCTO) and the Sani Wildlife branch of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa).
On May 15 the DEA overturned its own decision and ruled that the tarring option go ahead.
According to Mchunu, the KZN DoT’s appeal was based on the importance of meeting commitments of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the governments of Lesotho and South Africa in 2005 to improve commercial, social and economic opportunities between the two countries through increased accessibility between the two countries. “From an environmental perspective, it makes economic sense to upgrade the road from gravel to tar as gravel roads require regular maintenance every two years,” said Mchunu. “Furthermore, retaining the road in its gravel state will actually negatively impact the surrounding environment.”
The initial decision by the DEA was hailed by the Sani Wildlife branch of Wessa as a vindication of the EIA process. It said its reversal was “devasting news”.
In a statement issued by Russel Suchet on behalf of Sani Wildlife branch of Wessa, representing the local communities, (including the SDCTO and community tourism operators in eastern Lesotho) he said the “vast majority of these communities believed that all the specialist reports commissioned as part of the comprehensive EIA process over the past six years had shown clearly that a hard surface upgrade of Sani Pass would indeed rob our area of one of its major tourist attractions, thereby seriously damaging the tourism industry on both sides of the border”.
In the statement, Suchet said the minister had “advanced no compelling reasons as to why she has altered the well-thought out decision her own department issued last year”.

Sani gravel ‘is better’
Captain's Avatar
Captain replied to: #60826 22 May 2014 09:13
Just wondering how they will cope with black ice on the road surface and whether or not it will be a realistic issue during winter months. Will salt/de-icing agent need to be used and how will they mitigate the risk of accidents and what the maintenance intervals of the asphalt surface will be should the use of de-icing agents be necessary (if at all). Also, if it is a concern, when and how and how often will this be checked and the correct measures put in place...just wondering...
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #60825 22 May 2014 08:48
The article is not written very clearly, but I think it relates to the appeal by the Department of Transport against the initial ruling that the top portion of the pass be left gravel (or some hard surface) - see my post earlier (#57935).

This article brings it out a bit clearer:

KwaZulu-Natal Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu has welcomed a ruling by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa in favour of the provincial department’s upgrade of the Sani Pass road, which connects South Africa with Lesotho.

The first phase of this project had already been completed, with 14 km of the road now fully tarred.

Should there be no further appeals, construction of the remaining 5 km would begin within five months and would bring the total cost of the project to R887-million.

The upgrade of the gravel road to tar was halted when stakeholders, including local tour and lodge operators, opposed it, citing reasons to the effect that the upgrade would negatively impact on their business. The winding road up to the summit of Sani Pass attracts 4x4 enthusiasts from around the world.

Following the complaints, the Minister initially ruled in favour of the tour and lodge operators, a decision that the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport (KZN DoT) appealed in 2013.

The KZN DoT’s appeal was based on the importance of meeting the commitments of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the governments of Lesotho and South Africa in 2005 to improve commercial, social and economic opportunities between the two countries through increased accessibility.

www.polity.org.za/article/r887m-tarring-of-sani-pass-road-receives-ministerial-nod-2014-05-21
Captain's Avatar
Captain replied to: #60824 22 May 2014 08:27
I guess we'll find out once they actually begin the project. I don't trust anything the govt says
Captain's Avatar
Captain replied to: #60823 22 May 2014 08:24
@Jonwells: Yeah, the last 2 paragraphs are contradictory. I still think they could fix R74, although the portion of road requiring repair is in the Free State.

"The department of environmental affairs approved the upgrading of the road as long as the final 5km stretch up the pass to the border post remained gravel.

Mchunu said that the total cost of upgrading the 19km from Old Good Hope Trading Post to the summit of the Sani Pass at the border post would cost R887m."
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #60822 22 May 2014 08:23

Captain wrote: I understood the article to make reference to upgrading the entire road to the summit of the pass, probably terminating at the Lesotho border post.


From the article:

The department of environmental affairs approved the upgrading of the road as long as the final 5km stretch up the pass to the border post remained gravel.


Captain wrote: Why not fix the R74 instead?


Or both.

This is a R1b+ project (since the quoted price is always much less than the actual). But this road is used for trade between the countries and also has tourism benefits. It will naturally be tolled if tarred. I would be surprised if it is still in good condition in 10 years time though.
JonWells's Avatar
JonWells replied to: #60821 22 May 2014 08:16
@Captain

Thats what I also understood until I read this bit:

The department of environmental affairs approved the upgrading of the road as long as the final 5km stretch up the pass to the border post remained gravel.


So its a bit confusing...
JonWells's Avatar
JonWells replied to: #60820 22 May 2014 08:14
But then I wonder why this chap is so disappointed?

Russel Suchet, a tour operator, said: "We are extremely disappointed."

He had been a part of a concerted effort to keep the top portion of the pass gravel.

He said that the appeal of the pass was its gravel status.


Surely he got his wish then?
Captain's Avatar
Captain replied to: #60819 22 May 2014 08:12
I understood the article to make reference to upgrading the entire road to the summit of the pass, probably terminating at the Lesotho border post. Why not fix the R74 instead?