Drakensburg cableway has already cost KZN taxpayers’ R6 million and counting

Democratic Alliance media statement by Ann McDonnell, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA)

 

Drakensburg cableway has already cost KZN taxpayers’ R6 million and counting

 

A much-maligned proposal to build a cableway in KZN’s Okhahlamba region has already cost the province’s taxpayers almost R6 million – even before any final decisions have been made on whether to go ahead with the project, or not.

 

The figure was revealed in a written reply to questions from the DA by new KZN Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) MEC Sihle Zikalala.

 

According to the MEC, the department has spent R1 147 million on pre-feasibility studies and business plans since the idea was first mooted. Earlier this year, a total of R1 035million was spent on an Investment Conference held for various stakeholders. Meanwhile, a further R3.6million has been budgeted for “base studies”.

 

The DA is vehemently opposed to such frivolous expenditure that won’t create the jobs it ought to.  There are far more pressing issues that the department must deal with in order to fulfil its primary mandate – to create an environment conducive to job creation.

 

To date, all feasibility studies undertaken in the past, along with numerous opinions on the sustainability of the project have failed to provide proof of the viability of an expensive cableway and whether it will, in fact, appeal to tourists, both local and international.

 

The site is remote with poor access roads, limited communications and accommodation and all the infrastructure will have to be built in extremely difficult terrain.

 

The cableway project was first conceptualised in 2005.  Since then it has wasted precious time and money as it consistently pops back up on the agenda as a “Catalytic Project” for the province.  The fact that Okhahlamba is also KZN’s “water factory” and should be treated with kid gloves also seems to have been disregarded by the department.

 

Given the numerous red flags around this project, the DA expects MEC Zikalala to review this entire project.

 

During difficult economic times such as these, he should be showing leadership by helping Okhahlamba’s local community to develop tourism products and services – SMME’s that empower the people rather than so-called game-changing projects that will only benefit investors.

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