Update on Swartberg Pass repairs
For safety reasons, parts of the Swartberg Pass (R328 in the Central Karoo) will remain closed until essential repairs have been completed. In April this year, a flash flood washed away the section of the Pass between its entrance on the Prince Albert side of the Swartberg Mountain and Tweede Water.
The southern portion of the pass can still be used (Oudtshoorn) and access to Gamkaskloof/ Die Hel is still open. Current construction activities on this R20 million Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) project comprise the rebuilding of retaining structures, road layerworks, and re-gravelling of flood-damaged portions of the road. Approximately 180 m of retaining structures are being rebuilt and re-gravelling of flood-damaged sections of the road has commenced. Repairs to retaining structures are necessary to support the base layers of the road bed. It is a slow process, as it is done with local hand labour, but is progressing well. Approximately 80 m of the retaining structures have been rebuilt to road bed level so far, and the planned completion date of this portion of the work is the first week in October 2017, if everything goes according to plan.
Once that is done, the construction of the road layerworks and re-gravelling can be completed while the packing of the retaining structures continues on the sides. Re-gravelling should have been completed by the middle of October 2017, if everything goes according to plan. A further four kilometres of road which experienced heavy gravel loss because of heavy rain will be re-gravelled between mid-October and mid-December 2017.
DTPW appointed 11 temporary unskilled local workers at the start of the project. Another five temporary workers started this week, bringing the total to 16. There is also one skilled worker doing the wall reconstruction. The construction team doing the reconstruction of the wall has received training in the packing of dry walls to help develop skills and achieve a better end product for the Department. Plant operators are hired when necessary. The rest of the project staff is from the DTPW Outshoorn District Regional Engineer (DRE) Office and Eden District Municipality.
The Swartberg Pass Action Group established by Minister of Transport and Public Works Donald Grant in Prince Albert convenes monthly meetings to keep interested parties informed about progress on this project.