Patel wrong about De Beers Pass, N2 Wild Coast projects

04 April 2016

Minister Ebrahim Patel in his briefing on the expansive development of infrastructure in South Africa, at a recent Employment and Infrastructure Development Cluster, is under the incorrect impression in respect of the De Beer’s Pass  (National Road 3 Keeversfontein to Warden) and the proposed N2 Wild Coast Highway toll project (East London to eThekwini).

First, the Harrismith Business Forum (Forum) applauds the milestones cited by Minister Patel but would like to clarify certain aspects raised by the Minister, specifically regarding the status of the proposed N3 De Beers pass (National Road 3 Keeversfontein to Warden).  Minister Patel notes Cabinet will fast track at least 20 infrastructure projects and that his portfolio, “….has made good progress on establishing the technical specifications and engineering requirements, securing part-funding, approving environmental assessments and inviting contractors to bid for the projects….”. The Forum has been extensively involved in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process for the N3 DE Beers Pass project. No environmental authorisation has been granted for the proposed development.  The Forum submitted comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report (DEIR) in June 2015. The final EIA reports must still be made available for public comment.

In summary, the Forum’s specialists concluded that the project is simply not economically viable.  This is so as the consultants used by SANRAL did not take all of the costs into account when assessing the economic viability of the proposed road. The socio-economic impacts were also not properly assessed.  Lastly, SANRAL’s own environmental specialists were concerned with and noted the significant environmental impacts even with mitigation. The construction of a duplicate national road next to an underutilised existing national road is now even more implausible.

The Minister clearly laboured under the wrong impression with respect to the De Beers Pass Project.

Secondly, the amaMpondo communities have also launched a legal challenge against the decision to grant environmental authorisation for the proposed N2 Wild Coast Highway toll project (East London to eThekwini). Minister Patel also referred to this proposed project in his recent briefing.  The N2 Wild Coast Highway would have a devastating impact on the amaMpondo communities as well as the unique and pristine biodiversity of the entire Wild Coast Area."

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