Tuesday, 13 June 2017 10:20

R84 million skywalk proposed for Mpumalanga

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A proposal to build a Blyde Skywalk at God’s Window along the Panorama Route, Mpumalanga, will be sent to Treasury for approval. The budget set for the project is R84 million (€5.8m).

The skywalk will be a cantilevered glass walkway suspended off the edge of the cliff, offering guests a 360° panoramic view of the surrounds. The walkway will about 12m in length and 5m wide.

The main structures will comprise a skywalk, sky lift, restaurant and shop area.

In 2016, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MPTA) appointed Delta Consulting, a transaction advisor to facilitate the development of the skywalk. The project has been registered with Treasury, as per the requirements of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Tourism Toolkit, a regulatory framework for national and provincial institutions to enter into public private partnerships (PPPs).

A social impact assessment report on the proposal was written for the MPTA and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) back in 2013.

The project was also mentioned by Sikhumbuzo Kholwane, MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, in last year’s Mpumalanga’s Policy and Budget Speech, as a part of their Provincial Tourism Growth Strategy.

The transaction advisor has reviewed all the previous studies for the purpose of updating the old information. “A comprehensive feasibility study which will include updated figures pertaining to financial model, future revenue, specifications of the project design and forecast of visitor numbers will be completed and submitted to Treasury by end of June 2017 in order to obtain the TA 1 approval based on the PPP Tourism Toolkit, ” said Xolani Mthethwa, Head of Tourism for MPTA.

“The next step will be to compile the bid documents as part of the procurement process. This will allow Treasury to grant the project a TA 2 approval,” said Mthethwa. Once this is done, a preferred bidder will be selected and negotiations will begin.

Mthethwa said it is expected that the PPP process will be finalised by June 2018 if all preparations go according to plan.

Executive Director of Kruger Lowveld Tourism, Lisa Sheard, says the project is a great idea that would be fantastic for the region.

She points out that proposal for the Skywalk is not new. The skywalk has been on the cards for 12-15 years, says Sheard, adding that it is the “brainchild of Campbell Scott”, who is the owner of Skyway Trails in Hazyview and co-developer of the Graskop Glass Lift.

Source: TU

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