President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged communities to support the development of the N2 Wild Coast toll road (N2WCTR) project, which includes two mega bridges, stating that stoppages are counterproductive and not only costs contractors, but the entire country.
“The very purpose they [infrastructure projects] are being built is to allow people, goods and services to reach you, our communities. We all lose when the projects are forced to stop or even have to shut down,” the President said on Thursday, during a visit to the Msikaba bridge, near Lusikisiki, in the Eastern Cape.
Construction of the Mtenu bridge, about 64 km away at Lundini, had to be stopped, owing to violent protests related to the project. The former contractors, a joint venture of Strabag and Aveng, in early 2019 terminated their contract with the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).
Sanral has finalised the bidding process for the Mtentu bridge project and construction was expected to resume “soon”. Provided there were no more delays, the Mtentu bridge could be completed by the end of 2025, or early 2026, the President noted.
Earlier this week, the Amadiba Crisis Committee sent Ramaphosa a memorandum, urging him to support their battle against the N2WCT project. The toll road, they argue, will divide the community and threaten the livelihood of community members.
In his speech on Thursday, Ramaphosa highlighted the socio-economic and enterprise development benefits of the N2WCTR project.
About R4-billion would be spent on targeted enterprises during the construction period. This would ensure that the investment on the project would be ploughed back to communities. Already some R120-million has gone to local small enterprises as part of upgrading and linking of roads, and there were several more projects in the pipeline, he noted.
By regulating that a minimum of 30% of expenditure is earmarked for targeted enterprise sub-contractors and suppliers, about R4—billion would in future flow to small, macro and medium-sized enterprises from the OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo Districts.
Work on the N2WCTR project would lead to the creation of 8 000 direct full-time jobs and between 21 000 and 28 000 indirect jobs during the construction phase. This translated to a wage bill of about R750-million, the President noted.
Once the road is completed, ongoing maintenance work would create another 900 direct, full-time jobs and about 19 000 indirect jobs.
The Wild Coast road would be a key enabler for tourism and regional trade, creating a trade corridor running along the Indian Ocean coastline from Cape Town through to Gqeberha, to East London, to Durban, and to Ermelo in Mpumalanga.
“It is not far-fetched to say that years from now, this same N2 Wild Coast Road will enable an entrepreneur from Lusikisiki to transport their goods onward to Gaborone, to Lusaka, then to Dar-es-Salaam. It is not inconceivable that a bus from Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be able to bring tourists directly to the Wild Coast,” Ramaphosa said.
“With the coming into operation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area in January this year, I can certainly see this project playing a key role in the movement of goods and services to a continental market.”