N2 Wild Coast Road Political Oversight Committee concludes two-day oversight visit
Robert Haswell (SANRAL Board); Thamsanqa Mathosa (SANRAL Board); Themba Mhambi (SANRAL Board Chair); MEC for Public Works and Infrastructure, Ntombovuyo Nkopane; MEC for Transport, Safety & Liaison, Xolile Nqatha; Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Mayor, Cllr Daniswa Mafumbatha;
Eastern Cape, 15 July 2023: The Eastern Cape MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Mr Xolile Nqatha, with the Political Oversight Committee (POC) of the N2 Wild Coast Road (N2WCR) project, have concluded a two-day oversight visit to the venture.
N2WCR POC members – including the MEC for Public Works & Infrastructure, Executive Mayor of O.R. Tambo District Municipality, Mayors of Ingquza Hill, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Port St Johns local municipalities, SANRAL Board members, and the SANRAL CEO – accompanied MEC Nqatha on a two-day programme that took place from 13 to 14 July in Lusikisiki.
The three-pronged programme entailed a debrief session where the POC presented a report on its oversight work at an engagement session at the Lusikisiki Resource Centre. This was followed by a visit to the Msikaba Bridge construction site to assess progress being made on the project on Thursday. The third leg of the programme entailed an engagement session with local key stakeholders, including affected traditional leadership, women in business, business forums and N2WCR Project Liaison Committee (PLC) members.
“We are assessing progress made since our last visit in October 2022. When we met stakeholders, there were many issues raised by traditional leaders and the local business fraternity. Today I’m happy with the progress we’ve seen in addressing those concerns. I’ve forwarded the report to the Premier of the province. I’m excited with the progress made,” said MEC Nqatha.
“I am thankful for the role played by the SANRAL Board, the technical team and management under the leadership of the CEO. Msikaba Bridge is a state-of-the-art bridge. We are confident the whole country and continent will be envious. This part of the country will never be the same due to the socio-economic benefits of this project. Jobs have been created, locals have been trained in skills they did not have before. And, a concerted effort has been made for localisation, in some instances going beyond the 30% minimum subcontracting requirement,” Nqatha added.
There are also legacy projects in the pipeline, including the access roads, that SANRAL is constructing in the area to improve access to amenities and the living conditions of local communities.
SANRAL Board Chair, Mr Themba Mhambi, said it was SANRAL’s intent to deliver world-class road infrastructure to the people of the Eastern Cape and to ensure a significant portion of the economic benefits derived during the road construction be directed to SMMEs within the affected local and district municipalities.
Alluding to the integral role of a consultative and intergovernmental approach to the N2WCR road infrastructure development, Nqatha said, “It is clear there is no substitute for consultation and social facilitation. This is the route to go to ensure the smooth running of the project. We can learn from the Mtentu Bridge stoppage, which had a budget of R1.6-billion in 2019 but is now costing an already constrained government fiscal R4-billion after being retendered.”
Nqatha said it was “a lesson for us as leaders and communities that there is no reason to stop projects when we have concerns. It is important that we bring our concerns to the table because all of us want this bridge and all of us want roads. We can discuss our grievances but work must continue so that we are not affected by cost escalations and unnecessary delays which are costly to the very communities because with work stoppage comes loss of income.”
SANRAL CEO, Mr Reginald Demana, said: “The social facilitation work of the POC is important to the success of the N2 Wild Coast project; let’s continue to work together to successfully complete the project.”
Stakeholders appreciated the interventions made thus far to resolve some of their grievances.
The Mayor of Ingquza Hill Local Municipality, Cllr Nonkosi Pepping, urged the stakeholders to ensure their prerequisite paperwork was in order to enable participation in the N2WCR project. “You must also play your part by being compliant so as to be able to benefit from this development,” she said.
Chairperson Mhambi added that transformation is a top priority for the SANRAL Board. “We are committed to realising significant participation by designated groups and targeted enterprises in all our projects in line with government’s black economic empowerment policy,” he said. “R4-billion of the N2 Wild Coast Road project has been set aside for the local community through subcontracting, job opportunities, and skills development training.”
Lwandile Gcume, of the Wild Coast Business Forum, said the local business fraternity appreciated the project’s impact “particularly in this unfavourable economic climate. We also urge for political intervention to address the potential delay that could be caused by the Amadiba group insisting on an alternative route”.
Sigqibo Notshaya from the Ingquza Hill Business Chamber welcomed the economic injection made by SANRAL into the Wild Coast economy and imparted advice to the local community: “I want to urge for peace among the people of Pondololand to unite to ensure the successful implementation of this project. It is all in our hands,” he said.
The stakeholders rallied behind the project and have expressed appreciation of the beneficiation realised thus far.
Nkosi Sonwabile Jama of KwaKhanyayo Village in Flagstaff, where the Mtentu Bridge is being constructed, cautioned locals from interrupting the project. “Let us ensure that any differences we have are resolved via dialogue,” he said. “We are happy now that the Mtentu Bridge contract has resumed and with participation of the local SMMEs and community.”
About the N2 Wild Coast Road project
The N2 Wild Coast Road project entails a 410km stretch of road from East London to the Mtamvuna River on the border of Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. While the project has been underway since 2011, construction on the major greenfield portion of the route between Port St Johns and Port Edward only started in 2016.
The project is endorsed by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) as a catalyst for economic development in the region. It is a major project for the province and forms part of government’s 18 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPS). The N2WCR is SIP3, South-Eastern node and Corridor Development, with the key purpose being to serve as a catalyst to uplift economic growth in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
The project also consists of two mega bridges, at Mtentu and Msikaba. There are also seven additional major river bridges and several interchange bridges that form part of the project.
The socio-economic impact of the N2WCR Project offers a significant economic injection for local communities. The minimum 30% expenditure earmarked for targeted enterprise subcontractors and suppliers will result in over R4-billion flowing to SMMEs, the majority of which will be from the O.R. Tambo and Alfred Nzo district municipalities.
Construction work will create approximately 8 000 direct full-time employment (FTE) jobs, with a wage bill of roughly R750-million, and between 21 300 and 28 100 indirect jobs. Once the road is completed, ongoing operational work is anticipated to create 900 direct jobs and up to 18 900 indirect jobs.