Media Release: SANParks reacts to claim of forcing closure of Treetop Canopy Tour
South African National Parks (SANParks) would like to clarify reports that it is forcing the closure of the Treetop Canopy Tours managed by Storms River Adventures in its Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden Route National Park.
This according to the Garden Route Regional General Manager, Jill Bunding-Venter, who said the reports doing the rounds are not only factually misleading but are placing SANParks' reputation at risk. “The fact of the matter is that SANParks as a public institution has to follow the National Treasury regulations as far as Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s) are concerned.”
“In an attempt to address project continuity and protect jobs, SANParks has in fact renewed the contract which ended on 31 December 2004 on several occasions and cannot by law continue with the practice. This was specifically done to ensure that no jobs were lost and a seamless product offering continues. In essence SANParks has done all in its power to accommodate the current service provider as well its reputation.” Despite ongoing negotiations and legal processes, the parties are yet unable to reach consensus on a structured way in which a tender process could be undertaken without halting operations.
She said as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) when a PPP term comes to an end, the opportunity should be put out on an open and transparent tender. The management of the indigenous forests is a function that was assigned by the then Department of Water Affairs and Forestry to SANParks and the permit issued to Storms River Adventures has expired. Typically opportunities relating to state assets cannot be given out in perpetuity. “This is the case for all projects even where the private sector has to invest large amounts of money for e.g. in the Lodge Concessions, restaurants etc. It should be noted that the current service provider will not be excluded from bidding for this opportunity - in actual fact they would be encouraged to partake in the bidding process.”
SANParks would like to further state that due processes will be followed to ensure that no jobs will be lost. SANParks would also like to see a scenario where the current operations will continue to run uninterrupted until a new service provider is appointed, provided the current operator does not continue to obstruct the process of rolling out the tender. In the event that the current service provider is not successful, SANParks envisages that there would be a seamless handover of the current workforce to the new provider as per Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act.
SANParks wishes to state that it values the contribution that this particular responsible tourism venture has brought to the local economy and is committed to ensuring that this successful tourism product continues into the future.
The shop within the Stormsriver Restcamp has successfully gone through the PPP process and it has been re-awarded to Tiger’s Eye. Other opportunities in the area which are being put out to tender include the Tsistikamma Restaurant (to be concluded by 24 July 2013), Black Water Tubing to be advertised on 18 April 2013, Canoeing, kayaking and paragliding in the Wilderness Section, with the Timber Harvesting Concession already successfully implemented.
Regional General Manager: Garden Route National Park
Tel: 044 302 5618 / 083 640 5297
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