Malgas pont expected to be operating soon
The Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) is awaiting the decision of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) regarding a general safety operating licence for the pont on the Breede River at Malgas.
SAMSA instructed the Department to stop public operations of the pont when they indicated that a further authorisation was required. SAMSA has indicated that it will not license the pont operation unless the guide cable currently spanning the river has been removed.
SAMSA further proposed that an experienced operator be appointed to give additional training to the current operators after the guide cable has been removed. The current fully trained operators are the original operators of the non-motorised pont and have been using the cable as a guide as they build their experience of operating the new motorised pont. The Department agrees with this SAMSA recommendation and is in the process of appointing an approved training service provider.
While a definite opening date cannot be communicated, the Department will open the pont to public traffic as soon as it receives legal authorisation to do so from SAMSA. The Department understands the importance of the crossing to the general public and wants this to happen as soon as possible. It cannot, however, run the operation legally without a general safety licence.
A pont is a flat-bottomed ferry. It essentially takes the place of a bridge in a location where the expense of constructing a bridge is not warranted. The old pont, which was connected to a cable and drawn by hand across the river, was put in place more than a century ago. The old vessel had to be replaced because it was no longer fit for purpose and the vessel and the cable across the river became hazards to public safety.