Port Elizabeth 18 July 2016: IT is unfortunate that once again some KwaZulu-Natal media reports this past week have framed developments of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road Project Road as a project by “stealth,” the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (SANRAL) says.
So much has been written by KZN media about the project, most recently after receiving a briefing on it directly from SANRAL at a meeting hosted by the Durban Chamber of Commerce. The claims of secrecy are therefore just that, claims without any substance.
“There were strong views by provocateurs in media this week suggesting that the project is being managed in a covert manner. It is a skewed representation of reality,” said Simon Peterson, SANRAL’s Regional Manager for the Southern Region.
“SANRAL has always been very open and transparent about the location of the proposed route which includes a section of new greenfields road but also includes extensive upgrading of the existing N2 between East London and Mthatha, and the existing R61 between Mthatha and Port St Johns.
“We have been implementing projects along this entire route since receiving the confirmation of the environmental go-ahead after the appeal process in 2011. As one of government’s key national Strategic Infrastructure Projects the project has remained prominently in the public domain since its inception.”
Referring to media reports, Peterson said if voices of the community had been incorporated in news reporting, the “overwhelmingly strong currents and groundswell of support,” from local communities and “positive sentiment for SANRAL’s open and transparent engagement processes” could not have been missed.
Peterson said “even those who are purporting ro oppose the project are divided and unfortunately misled by people who do not live in the area and do not care an iota about the levels of poverty in the area. SANRAL has received consent and support from the majority of the affected communities along the road. .
Despite support for the N2 Wild Coast Toll project from local communities, a small splinter group has sought to build an opposition to the road by incorrectly linking it to the proposed Xolobeni sand dune mining project and through publicity seeking actions such as staged protests for media 1 269 kilometres away from the project site and with members from the rural communities absent from the protests.
“The N2 Wild Coast Toll Project was conceived before and independent of the mining project. People in the region need the road, irrespective of the mining project. SANRAL is fulfilling its mandate and within government policy frameworks to support development masterplans for the Eastern Cape, not only to remove legacies of the past but also to remove the barriers which prohibit both local self-development and investment inflows in the region.
“Local socio-economic development, particularly in the high potential agriculture and eco-tourism areas as well as through vastly improved access to social services all begins with this road, and local people understand this.
“There is nothing ‘stealthy’ about the work we have been mandated to do, and, if anything, the progress so far is a signal of effective public infrastructure service delivery,” he said.
Major project milestones over the last three months for the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road Project included:
- The publishing of a series of notices in government tender bulletins, and tender advertisements in both nationally and internationally to build the multi-billion rand bridges and other road infrastructure forming part of the N2 Wild Coast Road project.
- The issuing and closing of tenders to build construction haul roads to the Mtentu and Msikaba bridge sites. These roads will provide access to the two bridge sites for the successful main contractors to be able to begin site establishment immediately upon award.
- Extensive information sharing meetings with communities within the Port St Johns, Ingquza Hill and Mbizana local municipal areas.
- Meetings and workshops have been held with SMME and local business associations, traditional authorities, government bodies and local communities.
Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, accompanied by SANRAL’s CEO Nazir Alli will soon meet traditional leadership authorities in the Eastern Cape to provide a high-level project update, and, for the first time, give an aerial perspective of route. .
SANRAL is also at very advanced stages of community and development initiatives, and will soon host a symposium and expo for local businesses to bring SMME support agencies together with local businesses.
“As part of the greenfields portion of the project, SANRAL will ensure local SMMEs and local labour can participate meaningfully in the various construction projects. SANRAL has appointed service providers for a SMME training and skills development programme ahead of construction of the greenfields roads sections. Community access roads will be built by trainees on the training programme. In addition all construction contracts will have both local SMME and local employment participation goals. All design contracts will include emerging consultants,” Peterson said.
Source: Port Elizabeth – MyPR.
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