By Colin Windell
PORT SHEPSTONE – The serious damage to the roads and infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal following the double hit of floods has forced a second postponement of the African Bike Week Festival until April 27 next year.
“So much good work had been done on our road network in preparation for the August event – this was all undone with a second devastating flood in May,” says organiser Vicky Wenzel.
“We are utterly dismayed at the set of circumstances that have left us to take counse from our safety and security partners and understand this is hugely difficult for those in the tourism industry who rely on the events we bring to the KZN South Coast that help reset and boost the local economy.
“Bringing in an additional 18 000 bikers from around Africa into our current KZN road network would be extremely dangerous, and lives matter more. The continent’s biggest biker festival will still go ahead in April 2023 once the necessary infrastructural repairs have been done, and services are operational”.
Sikhumbuzo Mqadi, mayor of Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, said the decision to delay the event wasn’t taken lightly, but considering the risks, the right decision has been made.
“At this stage, it would be extremely reckless to host any form of motorcycle event, considering the state of our roads and the disruption to services. The safety of the public is our priority. Rest assured, we will work hard to prepare for the new dates when we are ready to welcome tourists to our region.”
A spokesperson from KZN’s Department of Transport added: “The province is working timeously to ensure the road networks are re-established and look forward to hosting our biking friends from around Africa once restoration of roads has been undertaken”
The South Coast Presidents Biking Council has expressed “much regret” about the decision to cancel Bike Week 2022. “Bikers look forward to meeting and enjoying what has always been one of the best attended biking events in the country and also for the excellent entertainment.
“The damaging sequence of floods that have seriously impacted on coastal road infrastructure and utilities will take months to correct completely. The safety of thousands of bikers that attend Bike Week is paramount and any decision by the authorities to ensure this is welcomed.
“As the custodians of safety and security, we are pleased the organisers have heeded our request to postpone the event, as it is imperative to consider the safety of the bikers more than anything else,” says Sergeant Sibu Ncane, Margate police spokesperson.