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Sustaining the Wild Coast calls on SANRAL and DMR to withdraw from problematic projects.

Sustaining the Wild  Coast (SWC) welcomes the decision by Austrian company, Strabag, to withdraw from the construction of the Mtentu megabridge, which is part of the controversial greenfields section of the N2 Wild Coast toll road.

See:https://www.wienerzeitung.at/nachrichten/wirtschaft/oesterreich/1016182_Strabag-stoppt-Suedafrika-Projekt.html

“Why doesn’t government listen to the people?” asks Bishop Davies, founder member of SWC, previous Bishop of the Diocese of Mzimvubu and known to many as the ‘Green Bishop’. “Since 2001, we begged the then CEO of SANRAL, Nazeer Ali, to build a road that would benefit local communities and not just the trucking industry. The proposed N2 toll road toll road has never been in the best interests of the Mpondo communities of the Eastern Cape.”

The new ‘greenfields’ section of the proposed toll road is routed through an area of critical biodiversity including fertile farmland and estuaries upon which local people depend for their livelihoods. It is a landscape of rolling grasslands, indigenous forests and spectacular gorges which support a colony of the endangered Cape Vulture. Alternative routes for the proposed N2 would not have the same devastating impacts on the environment and cultural landscape.

SWC continues to call on government to upgrade the existing road networks in the Eastern Cape to improve accessibility to remote areas, rather than spending billions on a tolled highway. This needs to be accompanied by programmes of bottom up development in which the real needs of rural communities inform government expenditure. With the right support from government, the enormous agricultural potential of the Eastern Cape could be realised and people’s lives improved. The N2 Wild Coast toll road has long been touted as a silver bullet to “unlock the economic potential of the Eastern Cape”, but highways do not automatically lead to socio-economic improvements. Impacts of road construction can be devastating for local communities – as the Amadiba residents of the Xolobeni area have made clear in their opposition to the N2 being constructed through their coastal villages which are the site of proposed titanium mining.

The government backed mining and road construction projects have been controversial from their inception.  Now is the time for SANRAL and DMR to withdraw from these projects and consider more carefully what role government should play in enabling sustainable development that will most benefit Eastern Cape citizens. Any negative economic fallout of Strabag’s withdrawal from bridge construction must not be blamed on those who have been opposed to the Wild Coast toll road, but rather on the failure of government to engage meaningfully with the alternative routes proposed, and residents who will be most affected by toll road construction. If SANRAL had listened then, this N2 Wild Coast toll road would not be in the mess that it is now, with so much taxpayers’ money wasted on trying to push through a route that was problematic from the start.

For further information:

Nonhle Mbuthuma – reroute the road! – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cC4PVUuytn8

50/50 coverage of N2 Wild Coast toll road – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pTj4wVI6DzQ

City Press article on road blockade –https://city-press.news24.com/News/sanral-made-false-promises-protesters-block-construction-of-r16bn-mega-bridge-20181030

Further background – https://www.newframe.com/wild-coast-n2-fight-resumes

For further information please contact:

Ms Nobuntu Mazeka – 076 052 0613 / nobuntumazeka@gmail.com

Margie Pretorius – 082 873 9053 / barefoot.margie@gmail.com

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