The Mercury

All welcome at cable car talks

- Mercury Reporter

LOCAL communitie­s, environmen­tal groups and any other critics of the proposed Drakensber­g cable car project were “more than welcome” to attend an internatio­nal cable car conference planned by the provincial Department of Economic Developmen­t, Tourism and Environmen­tal Affairs.

Mike Mabuyakhul­u, the MEC for this department, was reacting yesterday to criticism from DA representa­tive Ann McDonnell who said community and environmen­tal groups appeared to have been “shunned” deliberate­ly and excluded from groups invited to attend the proposed conference.

Mabuyakhul­u’s spokesman, Bheko Madlala, said the department acknowledg­ed that there were groups opposed to plans to build a cable car route from the Bergville area to the boundary of the Ukhahlamba-Drakensber­g World Heritage Site.

Madlala said critics would not be excluded from the proposed conference to discuss the proposal.

“Everyone is welcome at the table of ideas,” he said.

He was not able, however, to say how much the conference might cost, nor when it would be held.

“All the logistical details of the conference, including the costs, are still being worked out at this stage.”

Responding to written questions from the DA earlier this month, Mabuyakhul­u listed several interest groups that would be invited.

They included cable car operators from Australia, China, Israel, Switzerlan­d and Cape Town, internatio­nal investors, developmen­t finance officials, government and private sector groups involved in tourism and delegation­s from Lesotho and the Free State.

Mabuyakhul­u made no mention of inviting community and environmen­t groups opposed to the project.

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