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What do you expect to see in terms of development after the N2 Wild Coast Road is built?
The N2WC road development is not only necessary, it will bring meaningful change to the lifeblood of the North-Eastern Cape and will open the gateway to the Western Cape – which has largely been closed to commuters. After completion, natural and planned development will begin to take place. We will also see a significant increase in volume of traffic, both commercial and domestic, including tourism-related traffic. Tourism will begin to grow and sightseeing at the deepest ravine in South Africa will bring big benefits to the region. We are also convinced that the route will be faster, safer and much more enjoyable with less wear and tear on road users’ vehicles.
How do you think the project will contribute towards the upliftment of local labour/SMMEs?
We anticipate that new permanent and temporary jobs will be created. There will also be a lot of skills development. This will lead to empowerment and the beginning of local service providers and contractors. From the day the road is opened it will require maintenance such as grass cutting, fence maintenance and upkeep, animal control and so on. Local contractors will have an opportunity to benefit from these maintenance needs. Other opportunities will manifest in the various towns where the road either passes through or there’s a proximate by-pass. For example, the need for fuel, tyres, repairs, hospitality, accommodation, craft centres and curios will open up opportunities for local business development. I believe there will be a huge increase in the volume of traffic – including road freight. This could also be an opportunity for improved traffic control and the opening of new weigh-bridges and regulatory measures.
How do you think the new road development will impact on production and logistics in the area?
There will certainly be a big improvement in the productivity of transit movements. Taxis will love the new road as will transporters, haulers and courier companies. There will be much more commuting between the towns – especially into Mthatha and Butterworth, Mt Ayliff and Mt Frere.
What are some of the concerns you have regarding the development?
My biggest concern is that there has been too much interference. Unwarranted objections from shipping companies, logistics companies, KZN business, and so on, all smacks of protectionism and less about meaningful upliftment further along the route. Objections from people and organisations that have no real vested interest is also concerning. In truth, the real benefit to residents and communities is about upliftment and improvement including a real change in the quality of life. The Border-Kei Chamber of Business recorded their support of this project as far back as 2008 (and earlier) and we reiterate the sentiment. We are absolutely convinced that SANRAL will adhere to every conservation act or regulation – including sustainability and renewable practices and are passionate about this project and its possibilities.