Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says up to 7 000 project-related jobs will be created during the construction of the new N2 Wild Coast road.
A further 29 000 permanent direct and indirect jobs may also be created during the service period of the road once it is opened.
Speaking in Pondoland, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday, during his visit to Sanral's multibillion-rand project to assess progress on the implementation of one of the national government's key Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs), which will serve as a critical catalyst for economic growth at a national, provincial and regional level, Mbalula said the new N2 Wild Coast road will have a positive economic impact on a regional level in the short term, as it provides a national route that improves access to the east coast region of South Africa, while reducing road-user costs and optimising safety, comfort and socioeconomic benefits.
Mbalula said the budgets for the N2 Wild Coast haul and access road projects are being spent on local labour and small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) and also awarding them with generic, entrepreneurial and technical training.
“Sanral is committed [to] SMMEs and all SMMEs working on Sanral projects receive South African Qualifications Authority-accredited training. This training provides SMMEs with the experience needed to improve their Construction Industry Development Board (CIBD) grading. Several of these SMMEs formed part of Sanral’s integrated community development programme – a 24-month programme comprising skills training in entrepreneurship, engineering and tendering,” the Minister pointed out.
The N2 Wild Coast road extends 410 km between the N2 Gonubie Interchange, near East London, and the Mtamvuna river bridge on the border between the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
“I want to urge all leaders and people of Pondoland and the Eastern Cape to support the construction of the new N2 Wild Coast road. This economic artery is like the veins in our bodies; human beings would not be alive if we did not have veins taking the blood from our hearts to the different parts of our body. In the same way, economies can’t function without roads, and well engineered roads at that. The N2 Wild Coast road project is the economic artery that is going to bring the Eastern Cape alive,” Mbalula commented.
The Minister said the proposed route alignment would connect major economic centres, significantly reducing carbon emissions, and save the South African economy about R1.5-billion a year in time-cost savings.
“District road intersections will be upgraded along the entire route in order to provide turning slots and improve safety. Villages and informal access will be closer and feeder roads will be built to provide access at new, safe and appropriate access points, in order to improve safety and provide grade separation accesses across the route,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mbalula also handed over two recently completed rural access roads to the communities of Sigidi and Makhwantini in the Mbizana local municipality in the Eastern Cape.
“We are here to celebrate with the communities of Sigidi and Makhwantini and hand over to them the local, rural roads that have been built by Sanral. Sanral is responsible for our national roads but they saw it fit to also get involved in these provincial roads here that feed into the national road, in this case the N2," Mbalula said.
He added that the new roads would improve mobility between the two villages and enhance road safety for local traffic and nonmotorised traffic, as well as access by the local communities to the future N2 Wild Coast roll road and facilitate socioeconomic development in the region.
The project provided accredited and non-accredited training to around 150 people, including ten SMMEs, ten supervisors, 30 community members and 100 labourers.
More than R28.5-million of the project budget was spent on target enterprises including SMMEs and local suppliers.