KNP Spokesman wrote:
The idea for an entrance gate was on the table at the time but the floods graphically showed KNP management that a gate at Phabeni might be the answer as an alternative to totally cutting off Skukuza.
I hear what you are saying KNPSM but have my doubts
Went to KNP a few times last year and I remember not being able to enter at Phabeni due to the bridge being completely underwater.
Think it was during the trip to Satara beginning of March.
Somebody's caravan even got thrown off the bridge by the water's force according to one of the gate staff members when I phoned for an update. (Had been raining for a week or so)
The water at Kruger gate was flowing wildly but not close to the top of the bridge yet.
The water from the N'waswitshaka going towards Skukuza was very close to bridge level but not quite there yet.
The bridge on the H1-2 over the Sabie was also closed down.
Now correct me if I'm wrong but the bridge at Phabeni (first one when you've entered) is very low, the lowest in the area I think.
So how come that would be the only safe alternative left if everything else is closed?
Surely that would be the first one to be closed?
Please don't misunderstand me, I love the gate and the S3 up to Kruger gate is one of my favourite roads. Just asking that if this was suppose to be an alternative or emergency entrance/exit to Skukuza why the bridge wasn't built any higher then?
I can get the exact elevations of the various bridges for you, but I am pretty sure the Phabenispruit is higher than the Sabie River, as it is a tributary to the Sabie River (using the principle of "river flows downhill").
If a large amount of rainfall does fall in the catchment area of the Phabenispruit, it stands to reason that there will be problems, but we feel that the chances of this happening are fewer than the chances of the Sabie River coming down in flood and, perhaps more importantly, cutting the three key bridges away.
The simple reason for this is that the catchment area of the Sabie River is SO much bigger than the catchment area of its tributary Phabenispruit.
Because of the higher elevation, a Phabenispruit flood will also clear quicker than a Sabie River flood, enabling us to open it before (say - and touch wood it never happens again) the river washes away the Paul Kruger bridge.
It just so happens that at that particular time (I remember it pretty well) the Phabenispruit did come down, causing problems but we don't think this is going to happen every flood, simply because of the elevation of the land.
With rivers and bridges, I guess it is always a gamble as to what to do as nature has a tendency to throw a curved ball every now and then (remember the Laingsburg flood, and various other examples), but if you look at a relief map of the area, the Phabeni - Doispane route is definitely higher than the Hazyview - Skukuza route which certainly makes sense as an alternative.
And now there is always the question of whether to build a full size bridge (a la Paul Kruger Gate, Malelane etc) or whether to build a low water bridge (a la Croc Bridge, Phabeni etc) and the guiding principle is usually budget (but is often environmental considerations).
We are not saying Johann that the problem will disappear completely, but what we are saying is that the Phabeni route might be Skukuza's trump card the next time a flood of the scale of 2001 comes down.
Hope this clarifies.