Over 3 000 local jobs created, 2 900 people trained on SANRAL’s R20 bn N2 Wild Coast Road project


Over 3 000 local jobs created, 2 900 people trained on SANRAL’s R20 bn N2 Wild Coast Road project

                         Caption: The Msikaba Bridge pylons have exceeded the 80% completion mark

Bizana, Eastern Cape 20 March 2024: The South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) has reported that its flagship N2 Wild Coast Road (N2WCR) project has generated more than 3 000 local jobs to date.

SANRAL provided the report during a two-day N2WCR Political Oversight Committee (POC) session held with traditional leadership and local stakeholders at the Wild Coast Sun in Bizana.

SANRAL’s regional manager, Mbulelo Peterson, said that 3 069 jobs had been created for locals, excluding the site staff and team of professionals working on the project. Peterson said that 2 906 locals had undergone various skills development training programmes, including welding, brick and block laying, computer skills, catering, community training and crop production. Additionally, Construction Skills Development Goals (CSDG) training has been provided to more than 53 beneficiaries.

“The N2 Wild Coast Road project has created opportunities for participation by more than 418 emerging enterprises and, over and above this, we have realised indirect benefits from the provision of accommodation, supply of fuel, catering and hardware to many other economic spinoffs,” said Peterson.

The project is progressing well with the construction of the Mtentu Bridge having recently commenced and the Msikaba Bridge pylons having exceeded the 80% mark at 86.2 metres out of a 126.7 metre height. With the Msikaba Bridge at an advanced construction stage and the launching of the bridge deck anticipated later in the year, more than R106,4 million in wages have been paid to targeted labour to date, while more than R629,8 million has been spent on targeted small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).

Eastern Cape Transport and Community Safety MEC, Xolile Nqatha who chairs the POC, said the construction of the two bridges in Pondoland is set make history in Africa and beyond. He said the current government leadership should lead by example as it is tasked with ensuring that the project succeeds as part of its legacy and for the benefit of future generations.

“It is important for the local business fraternity and community to unite and speak with one voice. Your unity and collective power are important to the success of this project,” said Nqatha.

The traditional leadership, business sector, municipalities and Project Liaison Committees took turns applauding the work of SANRAL while registering challenges presented by the project.

Belekazi Sikutshwa Thole, Secretary of the Bizana Business Chamber, expressed her appreciation for the engagement and emphasised the strong representation achieved. In a poignant statement, she remarked, “SANRAL has put women on the map. I am so passionate because I am one of them. It is really difficult to be in this space, and we need support, but women must make a difference.”

Port St Johns Business Chamber chairperson, Nzamela Ncoyini, said that 30 years into the country’s democracy, the 30 percent share must change. “We are previously disadvantaged. It seems we continue to be disadvantaged because there is no advantage in putting aside 30% for the majority of the people. This is a policy matter that government should look at addressing,” said Ncoyini.

The business stakeholders said that it was important for SANRAL to prioritise mentorship and skills development on the project and that they were happy with the recent appointment of an independent SMME mentor. They also condemned the vandalising of infrastructure by aggrieved parties as it reversed the gains of local development.

OR Tambo District Executive Mayor, Mesuli Ngqondwana, articulated his appreciation for the collaboration exhibited by the three spheres of government to ensure the smooth implementation of the project and acknowledged the valuable concerns raised by stakeholders. “It is clear, though, that there are areas that still need focus to ensure that we fight the misrepresentation of stakeholders by minority groups, who sometimes exploit legal authorities to undermine the will of the majority,” said Ngqondwana.

Traditional leaders welcomed the work being done by SANRAL to develop the Pondoland area and appreciated the open channels of communication availed by the roads agency to engage on any contentious matters. They said that although there are challenges from time to time, traditional leaders should make use of the available platforms to express them and not hold projects up.

Chief Gcinizizwe Mkwedini, of Qaukeni village near Lusikisiki, pleaded with SANRAL to expedite the resolution of the issue halting implementation of the R2.2 billion road construction between Lingeni and Msikaba that has been interdicted.

Chief Lunga Baleni, of the Amadiba village, said that there is room for improvement in the communication around the progress and project updates, so as to ensure that all parties are on the same page and to dispel any misinformation.

The R20-billion-rand N2WCR project is strategically positioned on the N2, which connects four provinces: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, and traversing the major towns of Cape Town, George, Port Elizabeth, East London, Mthatha, Durban and Ermelo.

It entails construction of the two mega bridges at Msikaba and Mtentu and is set to reduce travel time between the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal by about two hours. One of the upcoming milestones for Msikaba Bridge is the launch of the deck anticipated by the end of June 2024.

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 more than R4 billion flowing to SMMEs, the majority of which will be from the OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo district municipalities. Construction work will create approximately 8 000 direct full-time equivalent (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.