The Northern Cape provincial government this week proudly joined in the celebrations of the 365 days countdown to the Bloodhound Supersonic Car’s (SSC) 1600km/h world speed record attempt next year.
This sees the culmination of a collaborative effort between the Northern Cape provincial government and Bloodhound stakeholders dating back to 2009.
The site at Hakskeen Pan in the Dawid Kruiper local municipal area of the ZF Mgcawu district municipality of the Northern Cape, was selected after a bespoke computer programme assessed satellite earth observation imagery of over 20 000 potential sites. Detailed ground investigations were conducted in favoured locations before a shortlist of 35 potential desert sites was compiled in 2009.
The Bloodhound Project is an international education initiative which is focusing on setting a 1600 km/h land speed record. Its aim is to inspire young people about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, in part, by sharing the adventure – and all the data – and making these subjects as accessible and exciting as possible.
The project was endorsed by the Northern Cape provincial government, spearheaded by the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism.
The MEC responsible for finance, economic development and tourism, Mac Jack, has applauded the 350 volunteers for a job well done.
“Primarily, we need to thank the Northern Cape Department of Roads and Infrastructure, through their Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP) initiative, for funding the project and paying stipends to the volunteers who are mostly residing in the David Kruiper municipality, formerly Mier municipality, where the main event is going to take place,” said Mr Jack.
The project has contributed significantly to job creation in the area with over 300 local community members having been contracted to assist with track clearance. Since November 2010 over 15 800 tonnes of stones have been removed from the track and safety zones. These volunteers were exposed to sweltering sunshine on the pan, clearing stones and other obstacles.
“The team has achieved something truly astonishing in the scale and quality of their work since they began clearing more than twenty million square metres on what has to be the best straight-line race track in history by hand since 2009. They have cleared the track which is equivalent of 4800 soccer pitches of stones and various other obstructions. To keep up with the demand of the work, they needed to drink 3000 litres of water every day as they checked an area of (20 x 1.5) km in temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius,” Mr Jack said. At the countdown event, MEC Jack, Premier Sylvia Lucas and the Bloodhound team led by the driver Andy Green presented them with certificates and medals in recognition of the sterling job they had done.
The ceremony at the Hakskeenpan took place after a series of meetings between the Northern Cape provincial government led by MEC Jack and the Bloodhound team in London recently. During the visit, the MEC attended a press conference were the announcement of Geely, as a main sponsor for the Bloodhound Project was made.
In his on-line monthly column, Andy Green commended the Northern Cape provincial government for their support. “After the truly heroic effort that the Northern Cape government team has put into clearing the track for us over the past 7 years. To make that even more impressive, the team was not just walking along and picking up a few stones as they go. They were scraping the whole surface - every square metre of it - to remove all the debris, however small.”
The Bloodhound Project has not only had a massive impact on the local communities in Mier, but has already drawn global media attention to the Northern Cape province. The project has incorporated tourism, infrastructure development, community upliftment, skills transfer and overall economic development for the Northern Cape. The project also continues to play an integral part in the positioning of the Northern Cape province as one of the premier extreme sports and recreation destinations in the world.
The nearby communities have also benefited from infrastructural improvements, including a fresh water pipeline and a sophisticated communication network.
According to Premier Sylvia Lucas, the province has put its full support behind the Bloodhound team as it recognised the tremendous potential of this project. “Local beneficiation was of paramount importance and the local communities continue to benefit in terms of employment and infrastructural improvements. However, the deciding factor was the fact that youth development and education play such a cardinal role in this project. Bloodhound has had a huge impact on the local learners and this has spread globally. The excitement of building a vehicle capable of breaking the 1000-miles an hour record is serving as inspiration to an entire generation of youngsters and reigniting an interest in science and technology. And our children will have the incredible opportunity of being part of history in the making,” said Ms Lucas.
The Bloodhound project has also played in pivotal role in the destination marketing efforts of the province by drawing global attention to a very remote part of South Africa’s largest province. The province has been promoting itself as a premier destination for extreme sports and outdoor adventure and this high octane adventure has definitely highlighted this positioning. In addition, it has also given the province the opportunity to showcase its tourism potential and the diversity of experiences to be enjoyed in the area surrounding Hakskeenpan.
The pan lies in the heart of the Kalahari Red Dune Route and visitors have been encouraged to explore the fascinating offerings of this diverse region, which offers something for any type of traveller whether looking for luxury, adventure, culture or family fun.
For more information, visit www.experiencenortherncape.com Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism
MEC Mac Jack next to the Bloodhound Rocket Engine at the Bloodhound Technical Centre in Bristol, London.