The South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) has noted with great concern and rejects reports that the agency is party to causing tensions on the Wild Coast in Eastern Cape province. SANRAL is focussed on construction of the N2 Wild Coast Road as part of the national government’s Strategic Infrastructure Projects and conducts all its activities in line with the country’s laws.
SANRAL takes these allegations very seriously and wants to make clear that the roads agency has not and will never participate in illegal activities. On the contrary, SANRAL’s activities are guided by good governance and transparency. Open communication and public participation with all communities have been at the core of SANRAL’s ongoing endeavour to build the multi- billion-rand N2 Wild Coast Road.
SANRAL has held extensive engagements with the affected community stakeholders over the past few years. Recent engagements include those held on 21 September 2020 and 7 October 2020 involving officials from SANRAL and the committee established by the Amadiba Traditional Council to assist in resolving misunderstandings pertaining to the N2 Wild Coast Road by a small group of residents.
The committee comprises representatives of both the inland and coastal or Umgugundlovu traditional sub-authorities, councillors, community trusts, Amadiba Business Forum and the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC). Ms Nonhle Mbuthuma of the ACC was part of both meetings as one of the ACC representatives.
The meetings discussed, among others, how the specific route approved for construction was first identified in 1979 and was included in network planning in the 1980’s, long before minerals were discovered in Xolobeni. It was agreed with all stakeholders at the meeting that the planning of the N2 Wild Coast Road project long predated the discovery of the minerals in Xolobeni by more than a decade.
These facts are evidence that the N2 Wild Coast Road is not being built to allow easier access to the proposed Xolobeni mine. SANRAL is not involved in mining and the road is not being built to facilitate mining activities in the area.
It is also important to note that sections of the N2 Wild Coast Road have been under construction since 2011. The project entails the upgrading and construction of a 410km stretch of road from East London to the Mtamvuna River on the border of the Eastern Cape and the KwaZulu-Natal provinces. The new route will shorten the current distance by 85 kilometres in comparison to the current route, delivering a travel time saving of between one-and-a-half to three-hours for road-users once it is completed and saving the economy R1.5 billion annually.
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 overwhelming majority of local communities support the development of this crucial major infrastructure project because it holds significant socio-economic benefits for local communities, including an estimated 8,000 direct jobs envisaged for construction work, whilst operational work is anticipated to create 900 direct jobs in addition to the 16-20 000 indirect jobs that will flow from the project.