Construction of a 33-km road between South Africa and Lesotho, which is set to cost R887 million (about US$74 million) and boost tourism traffic between the two countries, is currently under way, the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation said this week.
The road, which will facilitate the trip up the Sani Pass to the highest pub in Africa and onwards into the mountain kingdom (Lesotho), will become more accessible and act as a magnet to boost visitor numbers, Mpaiphele Maqutu, CEO of Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation, said.
Asphalt is being laid on the twisting gravel surface of the road, and work is expected to be completed in 2016, the authorities said, adding that the road will provide a more ‘driveable’ link between the South African province of KwaZulu Natal and Lesotho, the authorities said.
“Once completed, the road will act as an attraction to a broader base of tourists and bring new prosperity and economic development to the kingdom,” Maqutu explained.
“This project will bring to life what was envisaged when the South African and Lesotho governments agreed that tarring the road made sense both from an environmental and economic viewpoint.
“This improved access will bring Afriski, Africa’s biggest snow-ski resort, closer and enable enthusiasts – who previously entered Lesotho through the Free State to enjoy the Sani Pass and proceed with ease to the Afriski Mountain resort,” the CEO said.
“At Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation, we believe that the development will encourage more visitors to enjoy our land of mountains and discover more about the country whose entire area lies at an altitude that ranges between 3 482 and 1 400 metres above sea level,” Maqutu said.
“Access via Sani Pass will, we believe, also encourage rather than discourage adventure tourists.
“The drive up the pass will be easier, but the new road will also bring closer features such as the Thabana-Ntlenyana mountain at 3 482m, the highest plateau n Southern Africa, the 192-metre single waterfall drop of Maletsunyane is 192 metre with the world’s highest abseiling cliff.
“At 204 metres, this edifice presents a challenge that few adventure tourists will want to miss,” the authorities added.