R840m required to complete road between Sani Pass and Lesotho

24 July 2015

R836.6-million is needed to connect the “missing” 19-km stretch of road between the Sani Pass Hotel at the South African border and the Lesotho border to open up a vital Durban–Pietermaritzburg–Lesotho trade corridor.

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport senior manager for policy and planning Pat Dorkin told delegates at the KwaZulu-Natal Funding Fair, in Durban, on Wednesday that this was the missing link in a vital road that was all but complete on either side.

The first phase of the 33-km-long P318 project on the South African side of the border, which starts at Himeville, was completed in September 2012.
The Lesotho government, using Chinese funding, would complete the stretch of road from its border to the town of Mokhotlong in October. The remaining 19 km segment needed to join the two was currently restricted to four-wheel drive vehicles, owing to the steep rocky nature of the pass and poor road alignment.

The P318 Sani Pass road was the only road link between KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho. On completion, it would decrease the traveling distance between Durban and Mokhotlong from 621 km to 304 km, Dorkin said.

“For the development of both of these regions, it is imperative that the entire length of the P318 be updated to a blacktop road. However, due to the terrain, it is going to be expensive to do so and further funding needs to be secured,” he said.

Phase 2 could start in January 2016 if the required funding was raised. Owing to the complexity of the project, Dorkin estimated that the phase would take four years to complete, with the road potentially opening by December 2019. The project would create 8 360 job opportunities with the majority likely to go to those from local impoverished communities, he said.

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