A new day visitor's site at Shingwedzi, a conference venue at Mopani and upgrades to the tented accommodation at Lower Sabie are some of the improvements in store for Kruger over the next two years. Regular visitors to Kruger's camps will see some ongoing renovations and perhaps notice a few changes as essential upgrades and development to infrastructure will be embarked upon.
Last year, the department of environmental affairs and tourism (DEAT) awarded R396 million in funding to Sanparks for infrastructure development over three years. Sanparks allocated R195 million to the Kruger National Park (KNP) who will ensure attention is given to tourism, student, contractors' and staff accommodation, conference and day visitors' facilities, entrance gates, roads, and smaller upgrades.
According to Blake Schraader, head of the department of technical services, the designs for the upgrades for the tourism facilities at Punda Maria, Shingwedzi, Letaba, Satara, Orpen, Roodewal, Lower-Sabie, Berg-en-Dal and Pretoriuskop are about 99 percent finalised. The plans to upgrade the tents at Lower Sabie and the camping sites at Berg-en-Dal and Skukuza have been finalised.
"Our aim is to address the age of structures and to achieve star grading," says Blake. The plans for the main building, reception and restaurant at Punda Maria, as well as restaurant and reception at Letaba and Olifants are on track.
The Park intends to change the shop at Mopani into a conference venue, and the current cafeteria area into the shop. These plans are well under way. At Skukuza, the Park is aware of the need to upgrade the existing conference facility and is inves- tigating what the best options would be.
Day Visitor Facilities, Bird Hides And View Points
New day visitor facilities, similar to the new sites at Letaba, Satara and Orpen, will be built at Shingwedzi and Olifants. Several new bird hides and viewing points will be constructed throughout the Park. These are still in the planning stages.
Existing units in the staff villages will changed to en-suite units. Additional units will be built for guides where necessary. One picket for field rangers will be built in the south near Malelane. The park homes in the student / con- tractors' village will be replaced with permanent structures.
Blake said that funding was ap- proved as part of this programme to increase the height of the low level bridge at Crocodile Bridge to such an extent that it will be flooded less than five percent a year. Also on the drawing board are plans to replace and stabilise the wearing course of a number of gravel roads through out the Park. "We may use more than one stabilizing product, depending on the outcome of tests being conducted by the Council for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR)," says Blake.
Blake says all commercial activities at the gates will be con- centrated in one area. A swipe card system will also be introduced at all the gates to facilitate fast lanes for Wild Card holders. All the southern gates, as well as Phalaborwa and Orpen, will be upgraded. A new bridge and road will be built at Crocodile Bridge camp to ensure that the camp becomes an end destination. The road will no longer pass through the camp as it does now.
Support Services And Smaller Upgrades
Water and sewerage upgrades will also be done, such as the main bulk water supply lines between Balule and Satara Camp and be- tween Malelane and Berg-en-Dal camp. The hybrid power supply systems at Sirheni, Shimuwini and Bateleur will also be upgraded as will lapas and swimming pools be built at these camps as well as Biyamiti.
Blake says open tenders are used to source contractors to ex- ecute the upgrading work. He says prospective contractors should take note that all tenders are CIDB compliant and contractors will be required to be registered with the CIDB. Several quality assurance and project managers have been contracted to assist the technical services team with these projects over the next couple of years.
Four engineering firms, seven quantity surveyors and three architectural firms – Tom Hattingh in a joint venture with Mashilo and Lambrecht, Insika Architects and Theunissen and Jankowitz - have been at the grindstone to ensure the deadlines are met and the projects get off the ground on time and within budget.