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Debating the N2 Wild Coast toll road

Nov 02 2016 06:05

Cape Town – State road agency Sanral said its reports clearly quantify the benefits of building a highway through the sensitive Wild Coast tourism hotspot in the Eastern Cape, while Sustaining the Wild Coast called on the entity to provide transparency with timely, accessible and accurate information.

These two points of view come after Fin24 published a story regarding a new report on the proposed toll road, which recommends Sanral conduct further studies.

The report showed that assumptions made with regard to projected revenue and traffic volumes simply no longer apply while costs have mushroomed, invalidating the original cost benefit analysis.

It reveals that construction costs increased by 45% to 55% over the past eight years, pushing up the cost whereas the growth rate in the economy has declined dramatically. Projected growth in traffic volumes is consequently way below the forecast, it showed.

FULL STORY: Here’s how Gordhan can ease fiscal pressure in mini budget

The views also come after Craig McLachlan, Sanral project manager for the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road project, penned an opinion piece on News24, titled “Re-emergence of the noble savage? Colonialist myths abound in N2 Wild Coast Toll Road debate”.

Point of view from Sanral:

Sanral has obtained a copy of a study commissioned by Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) challenging the economic validity on the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road (N2WCTR) and will review the content.  

Mbulelo Peterson, Sanral southern region manager, said that “the detailed economic opportunities which include conventional tourism, eco-tourism, agriculture and other business opportunities both locally and regionally with regard to the N2WCTR are contained in various specialists’ studies by leading experts, and available to the public from the Sanral website under the major projects section.”
“These reports clearly quantify the benefits from the substantially shorter and flatter new route and how it will significantly reduce travel time and cost, reduce carbon emissions and greatly reduce road fatalities and accidents,” he said.
In addition, Peterson said that “it is important to be reminded of the fact that as part of the National Development Plan (NDP) the South African Government adopted in 2012 that intends to transform our economic landscape while simultaneously creating significant numbers of new jobs, and to strengthen the delivery of basic services in previously under-serviced areas, the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) as part of the NDP, approved eighteen Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) to support economic development and address service delivery in the poorest provinces.   
The SIP 3: South-Eastern node and corridor development includes the new dam at Mzimvubu with irrigation systems and the N2-Wild Coast Highway which improves access into KwaZulu-Natal and national supply chains. As seen the N2WCTR is not just another Sanral project, but a national priority under coordination and direction of the PICC.
With regard to funding for the next phases of the N2WCTR, Mr Peterson said that “announcements will be made in due course by National Treasury in this regard. But the first phase will be funded from fiscus allocations to Sanral”.

Point of view from Sustaining the Wild Coast:

“Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) is pleased that Sanral will reportedly review the content of the Maasdorp-Jorgensen report, which challenges the current economic validity of the N2 realignment via a new ‘green fields’ section along the Pondoland Wild Coast.  

SWC chair Margie Pretorius said she hoped this would lead to a meeting between Sanral, SWC and other stakeholders so that all views and opinions could be constructively interrogated, using the report as a basis for discussion.

“Citing the status of the N2WCTR as a ‘national priority in the National Development Plan’, and ‘under coordination and direction’ of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Commission is hardly a warrant of confidence given the present political crisis in the executive, which has left the authority of the presidency badly tarnished."

Pretorius said the time has come for Sanral’s leaders to “go up another level” to the supreme law of the country – the Constitution - if it wants to recover legitimacy.

“It is mandatory for Sanral as an organ of State to follow the ‘Basic values and principles governing public administration’ articulated in Chapter 10 of the Constitution”, she said.  “We hope therefore that the new Sanral CEO Mr Skhumbuzo Macozoma and Sanral’s project manager Mr Craig McLaughlin, will read the nine simple statements contained in Section 195 of the Constitution before studying the economic reappraisal.  SWC commissioned the report to promote ‘efficient, economic and effective use of resources’ (section b), with a ‘development orientation’ (section c) that ensured ‘people’s needs are responded to’ and that ‘the public could participate in policy making’ (section d).

“Viewed through that constitutional ‘lens’, the report should not be regarded as an attack, but rather as a generous contribution from civil society to assist Sanral to be ‘accountable’ (section f).  However, these principles and values can only acquire meaning if the cardinal principle articulated in section G is underscored. “Transparency must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information.”

"The Maasdorp-Jorgensen report highlighted “problems regarding the lack of disclosure of some key data in the report [referring to the 2008 Specialist Report commissioned by Sanral) which would have been important in backing up some of the assumptions and deductions."

Pretorius said that the basis of any constructive relationship, especially when disagreements begin to surface, is to share information.  “One cannot hope to build a trusting relationship without a willingness to share information.”

“Sanral will never achieve a lasting positive developmental outcome if their leaders continue to caricature their critics as latter day ‘colonialists’ romanticising the notion of the ‘ecological Nobel Savage’.  Mr McLaughlan’s recent polemic was so far off the mark to the point of being utterly ludicrous.  We are not the enemy.

"Meanwhile, in response to Finance Minster Pravin Gordhan’s unfortunate mention of the N2 Wild Coast Road as a priority for funding in his mini budget speech, SWC will be writing to the minister to point out the huge contradiction between his inspirational ideals on the one hand, and his willingness to spend R8bn on a highly controversial scheme on the other. 

"Local residents have applied to the North Gauteng High Court to have the authorisation set aside arguing that the cost benefit analysis, the socio-economic rationale and ecological sustainability are all way off the mark, and that the public consultation process dismally failed to respect and adhere to Mpondo customary law and the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA).

“Mr Gordhan is a good man, but he has had a lot on his mind of late.  We are confident that he will see the necessity to revisit some of his assumptions as to the prudence of funding the N2 Wild Coast Road once he has read the Maasdorp-Jorgensen report.  Hopefully he will reallocate the funding to other fiscal priorities and save us all the expense of continuing the challenge to the lawfulness of the scheme in the High Court,” Pretorius said.

sanral  |  n2  |  wild coast  |  tolls


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