The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) on Tuesday welcomed a ruling by the North Gauteng High Court to deny an appeal against a decision that confirmed the road agency’s decision to proceed with the construction of the N2 Wild Coast Road (N2WCR).
In an earlier judgment, Judge Cynthia Pretorius “found unambiguously in favour” of Sanral and confirmed the validity of the public participation processes during the environmental-impact assessment, Sanral stated in a release.
“We are happy that the court recognised that the public participation process exceeded the legal requirements.
“It also recognised that the decision to choose and approve the final route was thorough and transparent,” commented Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona.
The process enabled the public to engage with the environmental-impact assessment through a range of platforms including public meetings, imbizos and social media.
Mona said Sanral respects the views of people and widely consulted with communities and other stakeholders about the project and would continue to do so during the design and implementation phases of the work.
“We recognise that there are a minority of people who are opposed to the project – mostly because of unconfirmed reports about an unconnected mining project. However, there is overwhelming support for the benefits that the N2WCR will bring to communities and local businesses.”
Sanral referenced a survey conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council in 2015, which indicated that more than 98% of residents interviewed supported the building of a new road between Lusikisiki and Port Edward. This included a majority of people in the Mdatya and Sigidi communities, who refused to give a mandate to external lawyers to represent them in the High Court case.
The N2WCR forms part of government’s Strategic Infrastructure Project 3, which is designed to accelerate economic growth in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
The much shorter N2 route is expected to shorten travel time, reduce carbon emissions and improve road safety on one of the country’s most important national highways.
The new route is also expected to provide improved access to the underdeveloped Pondoland region and boost economic opportunities in the fields of agriculture, tourism and the hospitality industry.