Cableway may enter Lesotho

31 January 2014 - 02:27 By NIVASHNI NAIR
IDYLLIC: A proposal for a cableway at Mount Amery is opposed by the locals
IDYLLIC: A proposal for a cableway at Mount Amery is opposed by the locals

The proposed R500-million cableway in the northern Drakensberg could cross the border to Lesotho.

KwaZulu-Natal economic development and tourism MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu met tourism officials from Lesotho and the Free State to discuss extending the cableway by 5km into Lesotho.

Mount Amery, which has been earmarked for the cableway, is at the border of Lesotho, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

Mabuyakhulu said market testing is expected to be completed by the end of next month and a project developer will be appointed to help the department find a strategic partner.

He said the department hoped to find an investor by September.

"This process will go simultaneously with the environmental impact assessment," Mabuyakhulu said.

In 2000, a feasibility study found that the development, aimed at boosting tourism in the area, was not economically viable.

But Mabuyakhulu resurrected the proposal last year and described the cable car as a rival to the one on Cape Town's Table Mountain.

"The project aims at investigating the development of a 3300m cableway with an intermediate station, climbing 1300m to the summit, which will be an elevation of 3300m above sea level offering expansive views of KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho and Free State," he said.

But there is opposition to the cableway.

Hikers and climbers claimed that the weather and the safety of tourists have not been taken into account, and the local AmaZizi community are concerned their environment would be harmed.