Sani Pass Upgrade

22 May 2014 08:23 #60822 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Sani Pass Upgrade

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.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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22 May 2014 08:24 #60823 by Captain
Replied by Captain on topic Sani Pass Upgrade
@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."

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22 May 2014 08:27 #60824 by Captain
Replied by Captain on topic Sani Pass Upgrade
I guess we'll find out once they actually begin the project. I don't trust anything the govt says

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22 May 2014 08:48 - 22 May 2014 08:50 #60825 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Sani Pass Upgrade
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

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 22 May 2014 08:50 by intrepid.
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22 May 2014 09:13 #60826 by Captain
Replied by Captain on topic Sani Pass Upgrade
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...

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29 May 2014 19:45 #60903 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Sani Pass Upgrade
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’

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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29 May 2014 21:03 #60905 by stefangrab
Replied by stefangrab on topic Sani Pass Upgrade
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!
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30 May 2014 07:58 #60907 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Sani Pass Upgrade

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.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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30 May 2014 11:25 #60910 by ASL
Replied by ASL on topic Sani Pass Upgrade
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

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30 May 2014 11:33 #60913 by Viking
Replied by Viking on topic Sani Pass Upgrade
The DEA's ease with which they "change their mind" does not bode well for the cable-car EIA and resulting DEA recommendation.

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”

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