The N2 Wild Coast Road (N2WCR) project is going ahead. The North Gauteng High Court denied an appeal against a decision that had confirmed SANRAL’s commitment to proceed with the construction. Judge Cynthia Pretorius found in the road’s agency’s favour and confirmed the validity of the public participation processes during the environmental assessment.
This enabled the public to engage with the assessment through a range of platforms, including public meetings, imbizos and social media. Judge Pretorius had high praise for the level of engagement, calling it “one of the most comprehensive participation processes undertaken in this country”.
SANRAL recognises that there are a minority of people who are opposed to the project – mostly because of unconfirmed reports about an unconnected mining project. Yet there is overwhelming support for the benefits that N2WCR will bring to communities and local businesses.
According to a survey by the Human Sciences Research Council in 2015 more than 98% of residents interviewed supported the building of the new road between Lusikisiki and Port Edward.
None of the local protests were aimed at the project itself. There were issues concerning the composition of the public liaison committees, employment, sub-contracting and local suppliers. These are being resolved with stakeholders.
The High Court confirmed that the approved route was the best available alternative based on a combination of social, environmental and economic factors. In line with international best practice all the identified potential impacts are avoided, minimised or mitigated.
SANRAL is working closely with relevant agencies in the Eastern Cape to protect sensitive environmental areas. In addition, the social impact of the road is minimised through the construction of pedestrian and vehicle bridges as well as underpasses that will improve access and mobility for local communities.
Affected communities and individuals are compensated for any loss of land and all structures within the road reserve are relocated and rebuilt in line with approval of the owners.
The N2WCR forms part of government’s Strategic Integrated Projects – SIP3 – which is designed to accelerate economic growth in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
The much shorter N2 route will shorten travel time, reduce carbons emissions and improve road safety on one of the most important national highways. It will provide improved access to the under-developed Pondoland region and boost economic opportunities in agriculture, tourism and the hospitality industry.