Huguenot Tunnel

Coordinates: 33°44′2″S 19°5′47″E / 33.73389°S 19.09639°E / -33.73389; 19.09639
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Huguenot Tunnel
North entrance to the Huguenot Tunnel
Official nameAbdullah M Omar Tunnel
Coordinates33°43′40″S 19°04′00″E / 33.727778°S 19.06667°E / -33.727778; 19.06667
Route N1
CrossesDu Toitskloof Mountains
Work begun1984
Opened18 March 1988
Length3900 m
No. of lanes2
Operating speed90 km/h
Tunnel clearance5 m

The Huguenot Tunnel is a toll tunnel near Cape Town, South Africa. It extends the N1 national road through the Du Toitskloof mountains that separate Paarl from Worcester, providing a route that is safer, faster (between 15 and 26 minutes) and shorter (by 11 km) than the old Du Toitskloof Pass travelling over the mountain.[1] On average 12,000 vehicles use the tunnel every day[2] with up to 22,500 vehicles using it daily on holidays.[3]


View of new road into Huguenot Tunnel

An idea for a tunnel through the Du Toitskloof Mountains was conceived in the 1930s but was put on hold due to the outbreak of World War II.[4] The idea developed into a pass over the mountains, the Du Toitskloof pass, using the labour of Italian prisoners of war between 1942 and 1945 and continued with ordinary labour until its completion in 1948.[4]

A 1983 economic impact assessment estimated that the construction of the tunnel would contribute R200 million to the economy of the Western Cape by 1988.[5]

Geological surveys and design started in 1973, and excavation followed in 1984, tunneling from both ends using drilling and blasting.

The tunnel was named after the French Huguenot[6] refugees that settled in the area in the late 1600s with one of the Huguenot refugees being Francois Du Toit, after whom Du Toitskloof was named.[1]


The tunnel was designed by South African VKE and Swiss Electrowatt, Zurich consulting engineers.

There were two phases to the tunneling, the first a pilot tunnel to examine the routes geographical obstacles.[4] The second phase bored a 5 m tunnel through granite rock as well as the construction of portals, drainage and ventilation tunnels.[4] The two drilling heads met with an error of only 3 mm over its entire 3.9 km length. The tunnel was finally opened on 18 March 1988[4] and cost a total of R202.6 million (equivalent to US$95 million)[7] to construct.[5]

The tunnel is maintained by Tolcon, a subsidiary of the Murray & Roberts construction company.[8] The tunnel was constructed by Hochtief and Concor.

Current plans[edit]

Currently the tunnel carries one lane of traffic in each direction. Plans are underway to open a second unfinished tunnel, the "northern bore", to carry eastbound traffic. This will allow for two lanes of traffic in each direction, with each tunnel carrying traffic in one direction only.[9][10]

In 2002, traffic peaks occurred during Easter (a record on 26 April 18 200 vehicles) and the December school holidays (12 000 vehicles per day).


The toll as proclaimed on 1 March 2019[11] was (in South African Rand):

  • Light Vehicles: R44.50
  • 2-axle heavy vehicles: R118
  • 3 and 4-axle heavy vehicles: R185
  • 5 and more-axle heavy vehicles: R300

The tunnel has 13 video cameras that feed into an automatic incident detection system, which can sound alarm devices for any of the following conditions:


  1. ^ a b "Du Toit's Kloof Pass and the Huguenot Tunnel, Route 62 | South African History Online". Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  2. ^ "Technical Committee D5 "Road Tunnel Operations"" (PDF). PIARC. 20 October 2017. p. 4. Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  3. ^ Nel, Brandon (16 April 2022). "Nearly 40 000 cars passed through Huguenot tunnel this Easter weekend". Weekend Argus.
  4. ^ a b c d e "The Huguenot Tunnel turns 25 this week". The South African National Roads Agency. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  5. ^ a b clemence, laurian. "Huguenot toll tunnel celebrates anniversary". Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  6. ^ Ekron, Ziegfried. "Suprise plan for CT tunnel". News24. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  7. ^ "Selected Historical Exchange Rates". South African Reserve Bank. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "Tolcon". Murray & Roberts. Archived from the original on 14 May 2010. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  9. ^ Powell, Anel (8 September 2008). "Second tunnel for W Cape road link". Cape Times. Independent Newspapers. p. 1. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  10. ^ "Transport master plan may cost R750bn". Business Day. 5 May 2010. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Here are all the new toll fees - including e-tolls". BusinessInsider. Retrieved 24 May 2021.

External links[edit]

33°44′2″S 19°5′47″E / 33.73389°S 19.09639°E / -33.73389; 19.09639