AN ANNUAL WATCHING BRIEF REPORT FOR THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF UPMARKET TOURISM ACCOMMODATION ON THE SELATI RAILWAY BRIDGE, SKUKUZA, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, MPUMALANGA PROVINCE
This Watching Brief report is in reference to the Kruger Shalati Project in the Skukuza Rest Kamp in the Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga Province. This is an annual report, reflecting on work done for 2019. The report is done to summarise the work done during 2019 and to obtain a permit extension for the work to be done in 2020.
The South African National Parks identified the opportunity for the utilization of existing infrastructure associated with the Selati Railway Line and Bridge in and adjacent to the Skukuza Rest Kamp in the Kruger National Park and invited interested investors/developers to submit proposals and to tender for the opportunity Kruger Selati (Pty) Ltd, a member of the Thebe Group submitted the winning bid and are now in the process of applying for the required environmental authorization to proceed with their development plans.
Archaetnos cc was requested by Kruger Selati (Pty) Ltd to conduct a cultural heritage impact assessment (HIA) for the proposed development of upmarket tourism accommodation on the Selati railway bridge at Skukuza. This is in the Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga Province.
The proposed development is planned to be located on the Selati Railway Bridge and within existing footprints adjacent to the Bridge and the Selati Railway Line in and adjacent to the Skukuza Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park at central GPS Co-ordinates 24°59’30.81″S and 31°35’49.15″E. The site is within the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality, the Ehlanzeni District Municipality and the Mpumalanga Province.
The Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the project (Van Vollenhoven 2018) was approved by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and a Watching Brief during construction was approved. Three important heritage elements were identified, namely:
- The railway bridge
- The locomotive and dining cart
- The Sabi Bridge outpost of Steinaecker’s Horse
Status of the project at the end of November 2019
It is important to note that only the bridge and locomotive (with dining cart) is to be impacted on. The Steinaecker’s Horse site is on the northern side of the bridge and the project was amended so that there is no impact here.
The following documents were developed as site protocols:
- Heritage Information Background Document – to be placed on site to inform visitors
- Heritage Induction Document – as an induction for contractors and their staff
- Heritage Motivation Form – to be used by contractors to motivate any intervention with heritage aspects and to be approved by the heritage specialist
- Artefacts documentation form – to be used by contractors when chance finds are identified; to be finalized by heritage specialist
- Site visit documentation form – to be used by heritage specialist to note any issues during site visits
The work completed on site is the following (also see detailed monthly reports in this regard):
- Completion of the railway line from the bridge to the DC in an area with no heritage significance
- Installation of a wench system for pulling hotel carts onto bridge
- Repairs and maintenance at the station building, which have no heritage significance
- Completion of the New Waterkant guest house, also an area with no heritage significance
- Installation of services along the railway line and bridge
- Preparation of existing pillar besides bridge (on which demolished pump house rested), for deck area, a feature with no heritage significance
- Various different aspects of work on the bridge
Minor impact was foreseen and was indeed experienced, but nothing more than expected. Continuous discussions regarding heritage matters are being held with members of the management and construction team.
The following can be concluded:
- Recommendations made in the HIA report and monthly Watching brief reports have been implemented and adhered to when the applicable project components are being worked on.
- Conservation guidelines in relation to the cleaning of the locomotive and existing carriage, has been finalized, but these project components have not yet been worked on (see Appendix B).
- The only surface material currently being found by the contractors is stoneware ceramics similar to those still used in camp accommodation.
- No significant find has been reported to date.
- Rusted steel on the bridge is being cared for. Small holes had to be drilled to serve as outlet for access water on the bridge.
- One wooden sleeper will be moved slightly towards the east to allow the connection of services.
Thus, currently all is in order from a heritage perspective. However, the project has not been completed and thus an extension of the Watching brief permit is requested.
Prof. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD.SA.)
Accredited member of ASAPA (Accreditation number: 166)
Accredited member of SASCH (Accreditation number: CH001)
Accredited member of SASCH (Accreditation number: CH002)