Road to boost park

18 October 2005

The first section of an access road to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape was officially opened yesterday .The project not only created more than 240 jobs for people living in the area, but also created easier access to one of Africa's greatest tourist attractions.

The Premier of the Northern Cape, Dipuo Peters, as well as the MEC for Tourism, Environment and Conservation Pieter Saaiman, yesterday opened the first 10 kilometres of the access road which begins in Andriesvale and ends in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Askham. Upon completion the new road will be 80 kilometres long and will give tourists easy access to the park.

The park, formerly known as the Kalahari Gemsbok Park in South Africa and Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, is situated in the Northern Cape about 260 kilometres north of Upington between the borders of Namibia and Botswana.

It was transformed into a Transfrontier Park six years ago when a total of 2,7 million hectares from Botswana were added to it, increasing the initial size from 980 000 hectares to 3,75 million hectares.

The motive behind the project was to upgrade the access road that leads to the park so as to allow a free flow of traffic to and from this popular tourist destination.

Spokesperson for the department, Mandia Ndzilili, said the road was in a poor state and extremely dangerous, and in the past several serious accidents were recorded on the road.

Another important aim was to uphold the economic and tourism standards as well as improve the living conditions of the residents of Askham and other places falling within the Siyanda District Municipalit.

The poor condition of the road turned both domestic and international tourists away Fanie van Tonder, as spokesperson from the Kgalagadi Park, confirmed that the park suffered a 20 percent decrease in visitors this year compared to the previous year. The project also serves as a job creation opportunity for the unemployed people living in the area.

According to the department, the R44,2 million project is expected to create job opportunities for more than 240 people living in the area. Premier Peters said the project, as part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), is aimed at alleviating and reducing unemployment.

"To archive this EPWP will provide work opportunities coupled with education and training aimed at improving skill levels," she said.

Diamond Fields Advertiser - 5 October 2005Kago Ramoroka

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