Chapman’s Peak Drive to Open after Fire Damage Assessment
Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
This morning (9 March 2015), I visited Chapman’s Peak Drive to receive a report from the concessionaire, Entilini, of assessments done following severe damage caused by the fires that ravaged the Southern Cape last week. The drive had been closed as a result of the fire that has been raging in the vicinity of Noordhoek, and the upper reaches above Chapman’s Peak.
The drive suffered three main impacts as a result of the fire:
- Extensive loss of vegetation which acts as the slopes’ natural soil stabilisation mechanism in terms of rockfall and debris attenuation.
- Consequent release of previously trapped and accumulated rock debris within the vegetation, rendering them potentially mobile during episodes of strong winds and/or rainfall.
- Fracturing of both rock blocks on the slopes and on the rock face as a result of the intense heat, creating rejuvenated sources of potential rock falls.
These are extraordinary conditions that now warrant the concessionaire to adopt a very cautious approach to the management of the drive going forward, warranting regular assessments and possible closures in the interests of safety for all those that make use of the drive, e.g. motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, tourist groups, etc. Such decisions will be taken on assessment of the weather conditions that may incite further rock falls.
The drive has been opened from 14:00 today (9 March 2015) to traffic. The concessionaire will be taking necessary precautions to ensure safety on the drive, and for it to be re-opened to normal traffic whenever possible.