N2

Exposed: How Sanral forged documents

  • Posted on: 23 March 2015
  • By: JB

Source: Rand Daily Mail

AS if the South African National Roads Agency doesn’t have enough to worry about after last week’s tough hearing in the Supreme Court of Appeal, it is now also being accused of forging court documents to promote its proposed Wild Coast toll road.

Sanral came under scrutiny in the appeal court last Wednesday when judges considered whether to uphold a high court decision putting under wraps all the road authority’s documents related to another controversial planned toll road, this time on key routes into Cape Town.

Told that Sanral wanted certain documents kept from the public because they could ‘cause alarm’ if made known, the appeal judges called this ‘paternalistic’ and asked whether it was not, rather, to protect the agency’s reputation. One judge commented that the application was ‘unique’ in that it was brought in a court of law, trying to deal with the court of public opinion.

Now Sanral’s reputation is under fire again: key affidavits filed by its CEO Nazir Alli intended to show that the proposed Wild Coast road had strong community support have been denounced as forgeries – one of them rejected as a fake by the very person who purportedly signed the document.

The documents complaining of forgery have now been filed with the high court, and according to lawyers for the community, the agency agreed to their being lodged as long as Sanral could subsequently file its response to the new claims. Sanral’s official reaction so far has been that they are investigating the matter, but no affidavits by the agency, dealing with the forgeries, have yet been lodged in court.

The forgery claims are part of an ongoing legal dispute in which Sanral’s CEO Nazir Alli has challenged the mandate of Cape Town lawyer Cormac Cullinan and his legal firm to represent the Wild Coast community affected by the proposed toll road. Both sides had already filed their final papers for the hearing in the mandate dispute, preparatory to the matter being heard in court. Then Cullinan spotted the alleged forgeries in the supporting affidavits forming a crucial part of Alli’s case.  

The forged documents deal with whether the community has terminated the mandate it gave Cullinan’s firm as alleged by Sanral, and the extent of support by the community for Sanral’s proposed new road.

In September last year a leading member of the community filed affidavits saying the mandate to Cullinan has not been withdrawn. Nomvelwana Mhlengana, assistant to headwoman Baleni and an elected council member of the Umgungundlovu Tribal Council and the Amadiba Traditional Authority, also says that she and her community are very strongly opposed to the planned toll road.

It was when Sanral filed its reply to these documents that Cullinan noticed one of Sanral’s supporting affidavits had purportedly been signed by this same Mhlengana, just two months after she had expressed a contrary view. In the new documents she allegedly said Cullinan does not represent the community and that she backs the new road.

Lawyers believed there was a difference between the authentic signature and the forgery in Sanral’s affidavit and they hired an expert to examine them. No final answer could be given however as the original ‘forged signature’ was contained in affidavits that had been removed from the court files. Despite exhaustive searches by lawyers and court staff, the original has not been found. That means the expert was only able to examine copies of the forgery.

There was another problem with Sanral’s documents: they were signed on 11 November 2014 but the police date stamp reflects the next day. This must mean that they were not signed in the presence of the person who stamped the documents as required by law. Nor were they signed by the person identified as the commissioner of oaths.

Mhlengana has denied knowing anything about Sanral’s affidavit bearing her signature: she didn’t sign it and she didn’t go to the Mzamba police station on either date reflected on the document.

Apart from this forged signature, several other affidavits attached to the replying papers of Sanral’s Alli also appear to be forgeries: Mhlengana says she has never heard of the three people who signed the affidavits in support of Sanral and the road, and she questions whether they even exist.

At a meeting of the local community attended by about 80 people, the names were discussed and no one had heard of the three. In particular they agreed the three were not part of the Sigidi community as stated in the affidavits.

Cullinan has asked Sanral to put up evidence before court showing that these three people exist, that they were part of the Sigidi community as alleged in the documents, and that they signed the affidavits.

Cullinan said in his affidavit there was good reason to believe that Sanral – or people working on its behalf – had ‘forged the affidavits to manufacture evidence to support Sanral’s allegations’ that his firm did not have a mandate from the local community to fight the planned road. These efforts followed failed attempts by Sanral to get the affected communities to withdraw the court challenge they are bringing against the road.

Cullinan added that Alli, in his founding affidavit, had made serious allegations of professional impropriety against Cullinan and his firm, questioning whether he was telling the truth about his mandate to represent the Wild Coast communities.

“We answered by providing overwhelming evidence of the widespread support among members of the … community” for the court challenge to the road decision and for the mandate to Cullinan’s firm. “In reply Sanral introduces four forged ‘affidavits’ in a blatant attempt to mislead the court.”

Among the affidavits submitted by Cullinan in support of the forgery allegations is one by Mhlengana who says she did not sign the affidavit filed by Alli and that she was “very angry that Sanral has filed a forged affidavit” in her name which makes it seem she has committed perjury since it directly contracts her earlier affidavit two months ago, expressing opposition to the proposed road.

 

Sparks fly over N2 toll road project

  • Posted on: 21 March 2015
  • By: JB

March 19 2015 at 09:42am 
By Tony Carnie and Anél Lewis

Source: http://www.iol.co.za/motoring/industry-news/sparks-fly-over-n2-toll-road-project-1.1834207

IOL mot pic mar19 Wild Coast Toll Road 1INLSanral has been accused of faking support for the toll road it wants to carve across the Pondoland coast, including the Mtentu Gorge, shown here, which will require a huge bridge. Picture: John Yeld

Pretoria - The South African National Roads Agency has been accused of forging documents to mislead the Pretoria High Court and bolster support for the controversial N2 Wild Coast Toll Road.

This emerged late on Wednesday when Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona admitted the agency was “investigating the circumstances around fraud allegations relating to statements that Sanral submitted in court”.

To complicate matters, attorneys said the original of an allegedly forged signature appeared to have been “uplifted from the court file by unknown persons” and could not be examined by handwriting experts.

Several community groups from the Pondoland Wild Coast are seeking to set aside the government's 2010 decision to authorise construction of a toll road between Durban and East London.

Sanral had filed a number of affidavits from Wild Coast residents expressing support for the toll road - even though at least one of them, Nomvelwana Mhlengana, a council member of the Amadiba Traditional Authority and assistant to headwoman Cynthia Baleni, had been a vocal opponent of the toll plan.

‘OUTSPOKEN OPPONENT’

In this affidavit - apparently signed on 11 November 2014 and stamped the following day at the Mzamba police station - Mhlengana purportedly gives her signed support for the proposed toll road and states that she did not authorise Cape Town environmental law firm Cullinan and Associates to bring a court application to overturn the toll road authorisation.

Three more affidavits, each with the same format and bearing the letterhead of the Mbizana Local Municipality, were purportedly signed by three other residents - but now Mhlengana says she never signed the affidavit of support and only became aware of its existence after Sanral presented it to the court.

“I deny all the allegations made in the affidavit and do not support the N2 Wild Coast project,” she said. “I am known as an outspoken opponent of the proposed toll road, and I am very angry that Sanral has filed a forged affidavit in my name that directly contradicts my previous affidavit.”

She also believes the other three affidavits of support, purportedly signed by Msulwa Ndovela, Mfihlewa Mdatya and Gotyelwa Mathumbu, were also forgeries. She said had never heard of these three people, who were said to be members of her community.

“Sanral representatives knew that members of the Sigidi community would not sign their affidavits,” she said, “so they prepared forged affidavits with the assistance of members of the SA Police Services.”

‘FABRICATED EVIDENCE’

Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance spokesman Wayne Duvenage said: “Having studied copies of the various affidavits in the court record, it would appear that Sanral has fabricated evidence to back up its assertion that the Amadiba coastal community were supportive of the N2 Wild Coast toll road scheme.”

In an earlier affidavit from Alli, Sanral claimed that Cullinan and Associates director Cormac Cullinan did not have authority to act for those opposed to the toll road.

Cullinan said in a responding affidavit he had provided overwhelming evidence that communities supported the court challenge on the toll road and noted that Sanral had “virtually unlimited access to funds (from the public purse) whereas) the clients we represent have very limited financial resources”.

“This application by Sanral, supported as it is with forged affidavits, is a cynical attempt to deny these communities their constitutional rights.”

‘COMPELLING ARGUMENTS’

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town is cautiously optimistic that the Supreme Court of Appeal will uphold its appeal to make crucial information about the controversial Winelands toll project public.

Brett Herron, Cape Town mayoral committee member for transport, said in Bloemfontein on Wednesday legal counsel for the city and the 11 organisations standing as friends of the court, had made “compelling arguments” in favour of lifting the veil of secrecy that Sanral has imposed on its toll project for the N1 and the N2.

“Sanral wants to keep taxpayers in the dark about the cost of the tolling project,” he said, “by preventing the city from disclosing the information that is contained in its bid record.”

Herron said the information was of “great public importance” as it referred to toll fees and compared these with what Gauteng motorists were paying for their toll scheme.

The city's review application for Sanral's decision to declare the N1 and N2 as toll roads, and for the project to be scrapped, has been set down for 11 August in the Western Cape High Court.

The Mercury, Cape Argus

FAKE AFFIDAVIT(S) AND UNHAPPY COMMUNITIES: SANRAL'S BRAND NEW SCANDAL

  • Posted on: 18 March 2015
  • By: JB

Source: http://ewn.co.za/2015/03/18/OPINION-Scandalicious-Sanral

Alex Eliseev. Picture: supplied.

Alex Eliseev looks at yet another scandal which has fallen at the doorsteps of Sanral.

Roads agency Sanral has been hit by another scandal, this time involving fraud allegations relating to a statement submitted in court by its head Nazir Alli. 

It’s a bizarre tale – a pile-up on the highway of logic – that, sadly, few South Africans will be surprised by.
 
While the headline act in the Sanral saga has been Gauteng’s multibillion rand e-tolling project, another legal battle has been brewing in the Eastern Cape. The controversial N2 Wild Coast toll route proposed by Sanral has seen a community try desperately to stop the construction of a highway between Durban and East London. 

This rather stereotypical David and Goliath fight over the rural communities affected and the potential damage to the environment has been going on for years, with few city slickers in Johannesburg or Cape Town paying much attention. 

But the latest round of court papers exchanged between Sanral and the attorneys representing some of the tribal authorities has ignited a rather unsavoury scandal.

A replying affidavit signed by Alli at the end of November 2014 sets out to prove that communities along the new highway route are behind the project and that the attorney who claims to represent some of the residents has no mandate to wage war on their behalf. 

The attorney is Cormac Cullinan who, naturally, disagrees and argues that he does in fact have the required mandate. 

The trouble, however, lies in the six supporting affidavits that Alli relies on in his statement. These deal with meetings held with communities (because every Sanral scandal is, really, about public consultation) and purport to show that there is widespread buy-in.  

One of these supporting affidavits is by a community leader named Nomvelwana Mhlengana, who seems to have been completely surprised to find her name being used as ammunition by Sanral. Why? Because she’s a rather well-known opponent of the Wild Coast highway who has even appeared in a calendar published to create awareness about the cause. 

Her affidavit, which is printed on a Mbizana Local Municipality letterhead, states things like: “I support the proposed N2 Wild Coast Toll Highway Project” and “I do not support the review application (the court action to stop the highway)”. The statement is signed on 11 November 2014 and, strangely, commissioned at a local police station the following day. 

In a subsequent affidavit, at the end of January 2015, Mhlengana sets the record straight. 

“I did not depose to the affidavit… I deny all the allegations made… I do not support the N2 Wild Coast Toll Highway Project.” 

She continues: “The signature purporting to be my signature is similar to my signature but is a forgery.”

Mhlengana says she is angry that “Sanral has filed a forged affidavit in my name which makes it look like I committed perjury… Since I did not go to the Mzamba Police Station on either 11 or 12 November I do not understand how anyone at the police station could have stamped an affidavit that bore my name.” 

Further concern is raised that at least three other supporting affidavits could be fakes and that some of the people they claim to be signed by don’t actually exist.

By the end of last month, Cullinan and his team had compiled all the relevant legal papers to bring the alleged forgery to the court’s attention. 

Cullinan says they were shocked to discover the affidavits. 

“The communities in questions are against the toll road and when Sanral tries to make a case that the opposite is true it can’t find evidence to that and hence appears to have resorted to forging affidavits,” he claims.

“This kind of behaviour undermines our system of justice in South Africa and shouldn’t be allowed… and it’s particularly disturbing when it’s a major public institution involved in this.” 

Sanral has confirmed that Alli is personally aware of the allegations relating to his affidavit and has asked their lawyers to get to the bottom of what happened.

“We are aware of the fraud allegations that have been made in court proceedings,” says spokesman Vusi Mona. 

“Sanral views all allegations of fraud in a very serious light. Our lawyers are in the process of investigating these allegations and preparing a response which will be filed in due course as part of these court proceedings.”

Social worker and member of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance, John Clarke, has been involved in the Wild Coast battle and says he has now written to Transport Minister Dipuo Peters to flag what has happened. He says he hopes Sanral will do more than just investigate.

“Will they see what is plainly before them and immediately report the matter to the Hawks to ensure whoever is responsible is prosecuted? … Mr Alli needs to prepare himself for some extremely tough questioning from Minister Peters, as well as the parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport, who have also been alerted to the matter.”   

While Sanral claims the new highway will empower the communities along the route (jobs, access to nearby areas, less travel time, etc) those opposed to it believe it will damage the environment, split up villages and may even pave the way to some unwelcome mining in the region. 

There is no date yet for when this case will be heard in court, but Cullinan believes it will be later this year. There is also no indication when Sanral will give its full reply as to how the supporting affidavits came to be and who is responsible for their existence. 

At the same time, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein is today expected to hear arguments in a case concerning Sanral’s proposed Winelands Route in the Western Cape. 

The dispute at this stage is around how much information about the tolled highway Sanral is making public. As was the case with Gauteng’s e-tolls, Sanral stands accused of trying to deny South Africans an opportunity to interrogate the project before it’s signed and sealed. 

As for what’s happening with the e-tolling network in and around Johannesburg, the province awaits word from Deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, which is expected soon. 

The fraud allegations to emerge in the Wild Coast project should shock not only the attorney involved and the woman whose signature seems to have been forged – but an entire nation. 

It should lead to a criminal investigation and prosecutions. 

Alli should be on the front lines of trying to get answers. You’ll want to watch closely how Sanral explains this one.    

Alex Eliseev is an Eyewitness News reporter and the author of an upcoming book about a 13-year-old cold case titled Cold Case Confession. Follow him on Twitter at @alexeliseev

 

 

 

Sanral that is breaking the law

  • Posted on: 5 February 2015
  • By: JB

http://www.rdm.co.za/business/2015/02/04/no-my-friend-it-s-sanral-that-is-breaking-the-law

“WE ARE not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Executed by Nazi regime. 1945

Sanral board member Peter Derman argues that “Not to pay e-tolls is simply breaking the law”, and refers to various court judgements which Sanral claim as sufficient vindication of the lawfulness of e-tolling. 

No, it is Sanral’s failure to meaningfully consult that is not simply breaking the law, but has in consequence created a serious crisis of legitimacy. Worse still, the GFIP cost many billions more than it should have because of Sanral’s failure to prevent tender collusion and price fixing by construction cartels. That has left an odious debt and economic crime that present and future generations cannot by any standard of justice, be expected to carry. If not vigorously prosecuted that alone renders the boycott of e-tolls a laudable act of responsible citizenship.

Two stories, and another High Court judgement further illustrate why Peter Derman is skating on thin ice in claiming the constitutional and moral high ground for Sanral.

Story One

Pasika Nontshiza is a community land rights activist from the Eastern Cape. For more than a decade he has been working to ensure the most vulnerable and disadvantaged are at the forefront of development decisions that affect them and thus helps them to become ever more the protagonists of their own development.  More than a decade ago Sanral CEO Nazir Alli was on the campaign trail to sell the controversial N2 Wild Coast Toll Road, on behalf a consortium of construction companies who had supposedly lodged an unsolicited proposal to build a short cut for the N2. A “consultative meeting” had been scheduled at the Wild Coast Sun resort. Pasika fetched as many local residents from the scattered rural homesteads as he could fit into his bakkie to drive them to the meeting.

“The attitude Nazir Alli showed to people who had come to represent their views, as well as those of the late King Justice Mpondombini Sigcau was disgusting” Nontshiza recalls. “The villagers were a far cry and worlds apart from those who had invited Nazir Alli. The supporters of the tolling were well dressed in the latest designer clothes as they had acquired a new status of being a Wild Coast consortium whereas the owners of the land and people supposed to benefit from the road showed signs of fatigue, thirst and hunger but they were armed only with one thing: ‘prevent looting of our ancestral land’.”

When the villagers rose to question what benefit the toll road would bring to them, “feathers were ruffled” for it was quite clear that it would benefit an Australian mining company which was working below the radar to prospect for heavy minerals in the coastal dunes.  Without the road the minerals could never be mined and trucked our to global commodity markets.

“Journalist were also questioning why was the King of amaMpondo not invited, or at least to send a representative” says Nontshiza.

Nazir Alli labelled Pasika Nontshiza as a “white apologist who cared nothing for the poor”!

After the meeting Pasika then had to drive the residents’ home over bad gravel roads to their remote homesteads (without a white man within 20 miles). As they neared the Nyameni River at midnight his passengers urged him to switch off his headlights to avoid attracting attention of the thugs and bullies (well known for their intimidation and fear tactics) sponsored by the mining company whose homes were nearby. Pasika managed with little more than moonlight to light his way to get through the danger zone.

When Pasika shared that experience with me years later, it occurred to me that the crossing of the Nyameni River (the "dark river" in Xhosa) was the crossing of a symbolic threshold of the start of a growing protest against Sanral manipulative and unconstitutional methods. “Little did Nazir Alli knew, consciously or unconsciously that he was sowing the seeds of a revolution, to regain the most valuable asset on earth: The right to be heard.” 

The protest has now mushroomed to millions of people from Gauteng, KZN and the Western Cape who are claiming their constitutional rights to freedom of expression, access to information, dignity and administrative justice. As Cormac Cullinan, the attorney now representing the Wild Coast villagers and the City of Cape Town over the Cape Winelands project says, “one of the fundamental methods which our Constitutional democracy uses to ensure that laws are perceived to be legitimate is by enshrining the requirements for just administrative action (and access to information) which includes providing an opportunity for the public to participate in decision-making processes by commenting on proposed measures.  This means that adequate public consultation is one of the building blocks on which legitimacy rests.”

Sanral is a public body that is required to act in the public interest and to play its part, “ to provide effective, transparent, accountable and coherent government “ (Constitution section 41(1))c)) and to  comply with the basic values and principles governing public administration (Constitution, section 195(1)) which include transparency and accountability.

“Sanrals’s persistent failure (in Gauteng, Cape Town and Wild Coast) to act transparently and provide information on likely tolls etc, has not enabled meaningful and effective public participation” Cullinan says. “Sanral’s stubborn refusal to modify its projects in response to public reaction has generated a crisis of legitimacy.”  

Judgment One

“Consultation must be more than mere opportunity that the executive gives to the consulted to make effective representations… the right to be consulted is valuable … giving those who have the right to be consulted an opportunity to be heard… at a formative stage of proposals before the mind of the executive becomes fixed [pages 22-23].”  

This excerpt is from a criminal judgement handed down in June 2006, by the Deputy Judge President of the South Gauteng High Court, Judge Phineas Mojapelo that found Sanral to have failed badly in its obligation to consult with local residents affected by the tolling concession awarded to the Trans Africa Consortium for the N4 Maputo Development Corridor Toll Road. Believing that his rights had been violated a local farmer Mr Nicolaas Smit had pleaded not guilty to criminal charges on sixteen counts for refusing to pay toll at the Nkomati Toll Plaza. He was found not guilty because the toll road in question had not been lawfully declared as such for want of a proper public consultation process that gave expression to the Bill of Rights.

Judge Mojapelo’s judgment offered some very cogent lessons for the learning.  He devoted nine of the 82 page judgment to provide legal content and definition to the term “consultation” and, based on the definition, another 35 pages to assessing and evaluating the evidence, before concluding that consultation had not in fact taken place as required by law. 

The judgment included a telling reference to Mr Alli’s conduct and attitude in a public meeting in Middelburg which ended acrimoniously. Mr Alli had been questioned whether decisions about the positioning of plaza’s had been finally determined and if not, whether opportunities to make representations existed. Judge Mojapelo notes “Mr Alli gave a somewhat long response which eventually came down to this:  “No, you cannot talk to us any further, the positions are cast in stone.”  A group of sixteen people walked out in disgust at his “intransigent attitude” and subsequently issued a media release condemning the “lack of transparency in dealing with this matter” saying that it was “totally meaningless to invite the public to a consultative meeting” if decisions had already been made [page 42 -44].

A helpful judgment is one which wisely and appropriately blends justice and mercy. Justice is served by good law and mercy by a carefully worded text that serves as a resource to help the loser learn from the experience, develop insight and come to an acceptance of the need to change their unlawful ways. Mr Alli showed no learning whatsoever from the experience.

The judgement came some months before Sanral commenced a “consultation process” leading to the declaration of the Gauteng freeways as toll roads.  Had Sanral learned the lessons offered by that judgment, they would not be in the very serious financial crisis over e-tolls that now prevails.     

Story 2

On Friday June 13 2014, Nonhle Mbuthuma, who was just out of high school when her elders were bouncing along in Pasika’s bakkie in the dark night after Nazir Alli’s shocking contempt for them and their King, found herself admitted to another “consultation meeting” about the N2 Wild Coast Toll road, also held at the Wild Coast Sun.  Nazir Alli appeared to making good his failure to consult with the Mpondo Royal Family ten years before.  Except he was consulting with the wrong "king". He and Vusi Mona were meeting with Zanuzuko Sigcau, a government-sponsored claimant to the Mpondo Kingship. Alli, with Royal honorifics and salutations, informed him and his followers that construction of the N2 Wild Coast shortcut was soon to commence, (even though two court cases have yet to be heard against it) and that Sanral would soon be arranging helicopter flights for "His Majesty" and his subject chiefs to see where Sanral planned to span the gorges.

This was not only disrespectful to the judicial review process, but in blatant contempt of the Constitutional Court judgment handed down in June 2013 that had set aside President Zuma's illegal certification of Zanuzuko as king of AmaMpondo. Mr Alli made promises that he had absolutely no legal authority to make. 

The Challenge

The Sanral board of directors have strict fiduciary duties to ensure scrupulous ethical conduct and prudent risk management.

In his presentation to the E-Toll Advisory Panel Peter Derman acknowledged that no social impact assessment had been done for the GFIP but said that based on his previous experience as a social scientist that, he “would hazard a guess” that the GFIP would benefit the poor in the long term. The Advisory Panel has now established that e-tolling is decidedly not pro-poor and in fact reinforces apartheid spatial inequalities. 

As a social scientist myself, who is also bound by professional code of practice as a social worker which obliges me to challenge social and economic injustice, I need more than guess work to convince me of the legality and legitimacy of e-tolling. Peter Derman fears an "uprising". What we really need is an ‘upwising’ within the Sanral board, the Ministry of Transport and the current National Executive.

I will not pay any fines for not paying my e-toll bill and I do not relish the thought of imprisonment. But until the Sanral board of directors acts decisively to regain public trust, vigorously proceed with prosecutions against the colluding construction industry to recover the over-charging, and shows due respect for Mpondo customary law and traditions, my Christian conscience and social work ethical code obliges me to refuse to pay my e-toll bills.

“Blaming the public for failing to comply with the law misses the more important point that this outbreak of lawlessness is a response to the prior failure by Sanral to act in accordance with the Constitution” advises my attorney Cormac Cullinan. “Whether or not tolling roads is a good policy, or whether the GFIP tolls are fair, or whether e-tolling is an effective collection method, the process which lead to the e-tolls being implemented is perceive to have been unfair and insufficiently sensitive to the impact on the public. In consequence the laws are being resisted. Refusing to comply with laws that are perceived to be unjust is an essential democratic safeguard.”

He concludes “Unless public institutions respect the spirit (and letter) of the Constitution and facilitate the emergence of a more participatory democracy they are likely to continue to face such resistance.”

 

Australia based MRC controls Tormin: Disregards Environmental Protection Regulations

  • Posted on: 24 November 2014
  • By: JB

Australia based MRC controls Tormin:  Disregards Environmental Protection Regulations

Quote: "For locals it was another instance of Tormin's disregard for the environmental protection conditions required by its licence."

Xolobeni and N2 toll road disaster will follow if their application is granted to strip mine the Wild Coast's titanium deposits at  Xolobeni.

Coastal residents fear mining impact

Ann Crotty | 22 November, 2014 20:12

What happens at Tormin is being watched closely not just by people in the area but also by a community thousands of kilometres away on the other side of South Africa. Australian-listed Mineral Commodities (MRC), the muscle behind Tormin, has plans to mine titanium from the sand at Xolobeni, a pristine area south of Port Edward on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape.

 

The Department of Mineral Resources confirmed it had received a new application for a prospecting right at Xolobeni and said the application was under adjudication.

On the West Coast, Tormin has ambitions to expand mining for zircon, garnet, rutile and ilmenite - used in ceramics, paint, paper and plastic. But, if the allegations are correct, it could be that, without more effective monitoring, economic benefits will be overwhelmed by damage to the environment, including the roads.

In Vredendal, locals say they are not against mining but their concerns include damage being done to the roads by the trucks that ferry the zircon from Tormin's plant to Cape Town and garnet and ilmenite to Saldanha. "We have a huge problem with the trucks. The roads are not designed for this, but when we mention that, [Gary] Thompson [the Australian GM] says it's not his responsibility, it's the responsibility of the trucking company," said a resident after a public meeting to discuss a proposal to double the size of the plant.

Tormin is required by the National Nuclear Regulator to exercise considerable care when handling and transporting the low-level radioactive material produced from mining the sands. There are indications that these regulations are being contravened. The regulator and the Department of Environmental Affairs did not respond to requests for comment.

On the other side of the country, Nonhle Mbuthuma of the Amadiba Crisis Committee said disturbing reports from the West Coast confirm their determination to prevent MRC from mining the Xolobeni sands.

"Their plans would destroy a stretch of the South African coast that is uniquely beautiful. It could be harnessed to support a valuable ecotourism industry that would provide livelihoods for generations to come."

She explained that the mining activity would destroy surrounding farms and homesteads, and transporting the material to a harbour would cause huge damage.

Xolobeni is regarded as a valuable source of titanium, with production expected to reach 65000 tons a month if MRC is given the go-ahead.

"We fear there could be as many as 60 trucks a day travelling from the mine through an area that has no tarred roads and has lots of children going to and from school, and livestock roaming free. Mining will destroy this area and the lives of everyone in it," said Mbuthuma.

She suspects that the South African National Roads Agency Limited's determination to build the N2 highway so that it passes just a few kilometres from the Xolobeni site reflects a desire to accommodate the miners. At Vredendal, Tormin is providing employment to about 140 people. However, most management jobs are held by Australians and, in a move that has caused consternation among locals, a large number of staff have been brought in from the Eastern Cape.

The prominence of Australians in the top ranks reflects MRC's control of Tormin. That dominance has become more evident since South African Andrew Lashbrooke resigned as CEO of MRC's local operator, MSR, in September. Several other South African managers left after Lashbrooke. Most were replaced by Australians.

Lashbrooke's involvement was tied to the belief that his company, Blastrite, had rights to the garnet that was a by-product of zircon production and is used in sand-blasting. In exchange for these rights, Lashbrooke managed Tormin and undertook to assist MRC in securing the Xolobeni mining rights. To this end, Lashbrooke introduced MRC's executive chairman, Mark Caruso, to the Eastern Cape-based black economic empowerment company Blue Bantry/Xolco.

In July, MRC told its shareholders that it had entered into a three-year garnet offtake agreement with GMA Garnet Group of Australia. People with knowledge of Tormin say Blastrite did not have sufficient capacity to take up all the garnet produced by Tormin. This resulted in stockpiling of the low-grade radioactive material and in some instances in it being dumped back into the sea. For locals it was another instance of Tormin's disregard for the environmental protection conditions required by its licence.

http://www.timeslive.co.za/businesstimes/2014/11/22/coastal-residents-fear-mining-impact

Wild Coast plan to boost region by R40bn

  • Posted on: 26 November 2013
  • By: JB

 

Forecaster Ecosa|

25 November 2013 (Moneyweb.co.za)

 

Major infrastructure projects expected to crowd-in private sector investment.

The Integrated Wild Coast Development Programme and its constituents such as the upgrading of the Mthatha airport, the N2 Wild Coast Highway and the Umzimvubu Catchment Development will boost this Eastern Cape region’s economy by a conservative R40bn over the next decade.

This will have a massive economic impact in a region where, for the whole of the Eastern Province, the Human Sciences Research Council estimated that the poverty gap was R14.8bn in 2001 with 72% of the province below the poverty line. Poverty estimates are calculated using a poverty line that varies according to household size. A household of four people had a poverty income of R1 290 per month in 2001.

The poorest municipality in South Africa is Ntabankulu in the Eastern Cape (in the wild coast region), where 85% of its residents live below the poverty line. Seven of the ten poorest municipalities are located in the Eastern Cape.

“We are looking at investments of between R30bn to R40bn over the next decade,” Eastern Cape Member of the Executive Council for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Mcebisi ‘Smiley’ Jonas told a media briefing in Mthatha at the conference presenting the programme to stakeholders.

The reasonable expectation is that R16bn invested in major infrastructure projects by the public sector will crowd-in private sector investment worth at least three times that amount.

The jobs multiplier is normally in excess of five, so for instance during the construction phase of the Wild Coast highway 6 800 direct jobs will be created, while 28 100 indirect jobs be provided. The multiplier is 21 in the subsequent maintenance period with 900 direct jobs and 18 900 indirect jobs.

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said the reform of the agrarian land tenure system would be an enabler with new proposals such as state land being leased for 30 years as a way forward.

“People must not be locked into the past by ideology and hung up on freehold. Most banks will accept 30-year leasehold as collateral,” Nkwinti said.

Jonas said land tenure issues would be handled on a case-by-case basis as one size did not fit all.

“What we are aiming for is sustainable development, where large retailers and agro-processing firms provide their expertise in the form of supply chain management and the latest agricultural techniques, while the community provide land and labour. Payment for these factors of production can take various forms,” he said.

The projects

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa outlined an R8bn first phase dam and water reticulation programme for the Umzimvubu catchment area.

“Half a million people will benefit from the water reticulation project, while thousands of jobs will be created both directly and indirectly during the construction phase,” she said.

The first phase scheme consists of a large dam at Ntabelanga and a smaller dam at Laleni, both on the Tsitsa river upstream of the Tsitsa Falls. The estimated cost of these dams and the water reticulation project is just over R8bn in 2013 rand.

The proposed timelines see the detailed design of the project starting in November 2013. Rehabilitation of the catchment area including combating erosion and eliminating alien vegetation begins in February 2014.

The construction phase of the Ntabelanga dam lasts from November 2014 to February 2018, while the bulk water infrastructure will be built from October 2015 to September 2019 with the irrigation scheme being constructed from July 2016 to June 2020. The 180 Megawatts (MW) Laleni Hydropower Scheme is due to be erected from October 2016 to September 2019.

The Wild Coast highway is a strategic infrastructure project but has been held up by court action. It will link East London with Durban and will be 69 km shorter than the existing N2 route resulting in a time of between 75 minutes and 135 minutes. Both the time and fuel savings due to the lower altitude and fewer hills to climb will be the reason why truckers will still gain even though the route will be tolled. A total of 560 km will be redeveloped with an 80 km stretch being a greenfields development between Ndwalane and Mtentu.

The estimated costs are R5.1bn for the greenfields section, R2.1bn for the bridges over the Msikaba and Mtentu rivers and R1.8bn for upgrading of the existing N2 / R61 route. The detailed design of the two major bridges are completed, while the designs for a further seven minor bridges are in progress.

An indication of how the region will benefit is that R481m will be spent directly on wages, R360m will be spent on local manufactures, R240m will be the income of local retailers and R120m will be the income of local service providers.

Apart from the tourism sector, where every eight additional tourists results in one new job, the Wild Coast has enormous development potential in agriculture and agro-processing. Detailed studies have shown that the area has a competitive advantage in terms of rain, soil and climate for the cultivation of sub-tropical fruit and nuts, dairy production, lambs, wool, goats, forestry, maize, soya beans, canola, sunflower, groundnuts, sorghum, stone fruit such as peaches and nectarines and vegetables under irrigation.

An indication of the size of this agricultural potential is that if all the potential crop land was well farmed, more than 5 tons of maize could be achieved per hectare resulting in a total harvest of over 2 million tons of maize. This is more than double the current consumption of the regional population. The grazing area could support some 460 000 mature livestock units worth some R2bn.

Disclaimer: My trip to the Eastern Cape was sponsored by the Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

*Forecaster Ecosa compiles forecasts on Africa’s economic future.

Awesome SA: Screw Business as Usual

www.awesomesa.co.za South Africa is a country that has lived through one of the most frightening, riveting, and inspiring political revolutions in history. Real radical change faces each one of us every day. How do we deal with the mistrust that has crept in among our people from years of separation and confrontation? Richard Branson in his book – Screw Business As Usual – says: "We've a chance to take a shot at really working together to turn upside down the way we approach the challenges we are facing in the world and to look at them in a brand new, entrepreneurial way. Never has there been a more exciting time for all of us to explore this great next frontier where the boundaries between work and higher purpose are merging into one, where doing good really is good for business." Awesome SA supports an organisation called Sustaining the Wild Coast.

ORDER YOUR TOO GREAT A TOLL WILD COAST 2012 CALENDAR NOW!

Wild Coast Fund Raising CalendarWild Coast Fund Raising Calendar Click here to order! HELP PUT A PERMANENT STOP TO: Mining of the Wild Coast dunes The 'Greenfields' section of the N2 Toll road through Pondoland HOW? Funds raised by your purchase of this calendar go to support residents of Pondoland's Wild Coast, in their ongoing battle to protect and conserve their living landscapes and prevent the shredding of their social fabric by the two massive development schemes.

Another Controversial African Highway

  • Posted on: 11 August 2011
  • By: JB
http://www.care2.com/causes/another-controversial-african-highway.html You’ve probably heard of the Tanzanian government‘s recent decision to cancel plans for the construction of a new highway that would have bisected the Serengeti National Park, threatening the integrity of the site of one of the world’s largest, most famous and most important annual wildlife migrations. That was great news. You’re less likely to have heard of another, perhaps less significant, but equally controversial plan to build a new highway on South Africa’s Wild Coast. The bad news: this one looks like it’s going ahead. Last week, South Africa’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, gave the go-ahead for the new N2 Wild Coast toll road project which will involve the upgrading of existing smaller roads and building of some 90 kilometers of new road through the Pondoland area. Government believes that the road will help create job opportunities, increase tourism and accelerate investment and development in this rural and largely impoverished region. Significantly, it will also provide for easier access to potential mining prospects along the spectacularly beautiful and relatively untouched coastline. The fight over this road, which in 2007 was estimated to cost R6.4 billion (about $950 million), has been going on for more than a decade. Support has come largely from the national government level and the South African National Roads Agency. Very vocal opposition has been provided by local communities on the Wild Coast, environmentalists, concerned citizens and even the provincial government of KwaZulu Natal. The project was shelved in 2004 after it was discovered that the supposedly independent environmental consultants tasked with conducting an environmental impact assessment (EIA) had financial links with the companies hoping to build the new road. Molewa’s recent announcement comes after another EIA gave the green light for the project. The new EIA acknowledges that there will be a “loss of sensitive habitats” and “faunal impacts with loss of faunal diversity and loss of species of special concern.” Opponents charge that the road will endanger sensitive forests and waterways and threaten the traditional way of life of local communities. Of particular concern is the new section of road which is slated to cut through and destroy some 16% of a fragile region known as the Pondoland Centre of Endemism which is of special value because of its great biodiversity and the presence of many plant species that are found nowhere else on the planet. It also represents the cultural homeland of the AmaPondo people. This new section of road would include construction of no fewer than nine new high-level bridges across river gorges. Adversaries of the new road argue that a truly sustainable development path for the region would help to uplift the local population while protecting the unique environment at the same time. They have vowed to fight government’s intention to go ahead with construction in the country’s courts. Visitors to the Wild Coast have long appreciated it as one of the most beautiful parts of South Africa and one that has remained largely undisturbed by human development and environmental degradation. It would be unforgivable if it was devastated by something as mundane as a road. In the words of one local commentator, Fred Orban, “the surest and quickest way to destroy a world renowned wilderness area is to cut a highway through its heart.” Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/another-controversial-african-highway.html#ixzz1UidZKLvr

Taking the "wild" out of the Wild Coast

  • Posted on: 11 August 2011
  • By: JB
WRITTEN BY WESSA THURSDAY, 04 AUGUST 2011 11:42 On Monday 25 July, a year since appeals were first submitted, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, rejected all 49 appeals against the development of the N2 toll road and in so doing has given the go-ahead for the construction of this new section of the highway. For over a decade, WESSA has played an influential role in the N2 toll road Environmental Impact Assessment process. As an interested and affected party with a long history in conserving the Wild Coast, WESSA delineated a recommended alternative path that would have the least impact on this biologically diverse and sensitive area. This proved to play a significant role in the final alignment: 80% of the new road will fall on existing roads with only 20% being greenfield development. The 90km of road to be constructed between Ndwalane and Ntafufu and between Lusikisiki and the Mthamvuna River, will be an extremely costly development as large bridges are required to cross many deep gorges. One of the continual questions through the process has been: could the revenue not be better spent on upgrading existing roads, especially ancillary ones that would be of more benefit to the surrounding communities in the area? The road’s benefits will come at a hefty price to some of the poorest communities in the country. In addition, with six toll plazas being erected along the new road (two in KwaZulu-Natal and four in the Eastern Cape), it is commuters who will be footing most of the bill. As much as WESSA understands the potential social and economic benefits that may accrue from the construction of the road, we remain concerned about the change in the nature and social fabric of the area forever. “This may very well take the ‘wild’ out of the “Wild” Coast,” says Chris Galliers, WESSA Biodiversity Programme Manager, “It is another decision that speaks to the short-term gains of the political rhetoric. WESSA hopes the Minister will apply equal attention to the long standing need for the area to attain some level of formal protection as identified in the National Protected Area Expansion Area, prior to any construction taking place”. The Minister does recognise the importance of the biological diversity of the area and admits that it is a vulnerable asset that needs protection: “I am aware that the proposed road, being a linear development, will fragment this delicate system.” The Wild Coast is part of the Maputo-Pondoland Albany Hotspot, a globally recognised biodiversity hotspot. WESSA would like to see a greater commitment to the preservation of our natural heritage by the department which carries this mandate.

Wild Coast toll road decision is shameful

  • Posted on: 30 July 2011
  • By: JB
http://www.themercury.co.za/wild-coast-toll-road-decision-is-shameful-1.1108434 July 29 2011 at 11:29am Wild Coast toll road decision is shameful SILLY, silly me. All these years I have laboured under the illusion that the prime duty of the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and its minister was to protect our water resources and be the steward of our environment. That is the role that was played in the past when the ministries were separate, by ministers like Kader Asmal and Valli Moosa. But now it increasingly seems as though the ministry, under Edna Molewa, has abdicated its stewardship role, and has again become a Cinderella ministry that bows to pressure from big business, industry and more “senior” government ministries. How else to explain two recent decisions which are totally inimical to the future of our wild areas and of our environment? The first is this week’s dismissal of every single one of 49 appeals against the granting of permission to Sanral, to go ahead with the construction of the highly controversial N2 toll road through the Pondoland Wild Coast region of the former Transkei. The second is the recent decision of the department to give the Limpopo Coal Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Australian Coal of Africa Limited, permission to extract 2.4 billion litres of water annually from the Limpopo alluvial aquifer for its Vele Colliery adjacent to Mapungubwe. That decision, which is likely to have a disastrous effect on the Limpopo Basin, and hence on all downstream areas, including the Kruger National Park, the Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site, the Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area and on areas in Mozambique, is being appealed by a coalition of heavyweight NGOs. Considering that the decision was based in part on an apartheid-era calculation that only 495 people (read 495 white people) relied on the sub-catchment in question for their water needs, I would, as a lay person, think that an appeal would have a fair chance of success. But then I also thought that about the Wild Coast appeal. Silly, silly me. Slap my wrist. Listen to this statement from Minister Molewa: “The appellants aver that the construction of the road through the Pondoland Centre of Endemicism will lead to an irreversible loss of natural capital and, as such, is regarded as ecologically unsustainable. In addition, attention is drawn to the fact that the Pondoland area is identified in the National Protected Area Expansion Strategy for South Africa – a strategy which was jointly developed by the Department of Environmental Affairs and the SA National Biodiversity Institute – as an area with high protection potential. In fact, it is stated in the Strategy that the creation of a protected area in Pondoland will be the last opportunity to establish a large coastal protected area in South Africa.” Sounds like a pretty good argument to me, but no, Molewa dismisses it as follows: “I am aware that the proposed road, being a linear development, will fragment this delicate system… In such (a) situation, a balance should be sought between strict preservation on the one hand, and the promotion of development on the other… “Such developments will only be available if the area is accessible. Thus, by making the area accessible, the construction of the road may contribute towards realising the area’s potential.” I hate to say this, but our Environment Minister’s understanding of the concept of conservation of the environment is shameful. In their excellent book, Mkambati and the Wild Coast, Div de Villiers and John Costello ruminate on the future of this unique area. “It is easy for people to forget the lush forests that have provided medicines, food, shelter and spiritual solitude to generations of AmaMpondo. Together with the rolling grasslands, these forests face increasing commercial exploitation, which offers short-term wealth and a Western culture of progress and success. Thoughtless construction of roads, mines, and ill-conceived tourist developments risk destroying opportunities for the alternative route of carefully planned ecotourism and sustainable resource-use ventures of a kind that could ensure jobs, biodiversity conservation, and the preservation of AmaMpondo culture. The choice will ultimately lie with the AmaMpondo people. “Hopefully they will make decisions of which their ancestors and future generations will be proud.” Sadly, they did not not make the end decision. That decision was made by faceless bureaucrats in Pretoria. And it is a decision that should make their ancestors, and future generations, hang their heads in shame.

N2 Toll road decision

  • Posted on: 30 July 2011
  • By: JB
Minister of Water & Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, has approved the controversial N2 tollroad through the environmentally sensitive Pondoland Centre of Endemism. In a 21 page fax sent out to IAPs she dismissed all 49 appeals lodged in objection to the new road. What is clear is that the minister is being a "loyal cadre" and carrying out the wishes of the ANC, while betraying her office and responsibilities to the environment. Download the Fax here: 184635892.pdf 26 of the appeals were dismissed out of hand due to the fact that they address socio-economic impacts of the tolling; which was the responsibility of the dept of transport and the SANRAL Act. Concerns about ribbon, or linear development were not possible to consider because it would be based on only "potential future developments" and were dismissed. A major concern addressed by numerous appeals was SANRAL's bias towards the new 75km section of road between Lusikisiki and Mzamba and against the upgrading of the existing R61. The "Terms of Reference for Environmental Consultant N2 Wild Coast Toll Road Project" (TOR) included a requirement that there must be "due consideration of alternative options and a strong motivation for excluding the R61 and current N2 as alternative options". This was dismissed by the minister because the client was simply letting the prospective contractors know their requirements. Roughly, their requirements when going to tender equate to any 'impartial' verdict that aligns with their interests. And their interests are a shorter, Tolled road to attract revenue. Not an upgraded existing route that is 75km longer. Whether the relative costs of upgrading the existing R61 were accurately compared to the cost of the new road with bridge-spans or not is doubtful, but the environmental and cost objections seem tenuous at best. And in a classic sleight of hand, the honorable minister proves that the point is moot anyway because the condition was only raised in the TOR, but was never annexed to the contract binding the environmental consultants (CCA) to SANRAL, and can therefor be assumed to be non-binding. In the minister's words "Therefore, I do not agree with the interpretation of the appellant that the EAP is compelled to provide a strong motivation that the R61 and current N2 should not be considered as an option." Download the Fax here: 184635892.pdf "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach. "Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations." -Aldous Huxley

Outrage over N2 approval

  • Posted on: 30 July 2011
  • By: JB
Opponents of the N2 toll road that will snake through the Wild Coast are ready to take their battle to the highest court following the controversial road's approval by Environment Minister Edna Molewa this week. The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has fought tooth and nail to build the road from Durban to East London for the past 10 years but has faced fierce opposition from environmentalists, the local community and civil society. Sanral argues that the Wild Coast community is one of the poorest in the country and would be well served by the development of a road system to encourage tourism and open up the region to economic opportunities. "We are shocked by the decision, but not really surprised," said Cormac Cullinan, lawyer for the local community opposing the road. "Considering the political support this project had, it was just a matter of time before the road was approved." Two years ago, before appeals were lodged against the road, Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka told the SABC: "The N2 road is going ahead. We will make sure that this thing goes ahead." Cullinan represents the Sigidi, Baleni and Mdatya communities, the Khimbili Property Association and residents in the amaDiba tribal authority living in the Wild Coast. His firm was successful in getting the project canned in 2004 by then environment minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, but Sanral reapplied in 2008. Cullinan said the decision was flawed and his clients would in all likelihood turn to the high court if they could raise the funds for a lengthy court battle. Effects of the toll road The amaPondo had a proud history of resistance, he said. "There is no reason to believe that they would not be ready for a bitter fight if necessary. This road goes right through their ancestral land and will have a profound effect on their culture. "Our first step would probably be to take the matter on review and seek an immediate interdict against the controversial Greenfields section through the Wild Coast." The contentious part of the toll road is 90km of new road to be built between Ndwalane and Ntafufu and between Lusikisiki and the Mthamvuna River. It would cut through the Pondoland Centre of Endemism and nine high-level bridges over river gorges would have to be built. Molewa rejected 49 appeals against the road. The appellants argued that the public participation process was inadequate. But in motivating her decision the minister said she was satisfied that the process had gone beyond legal requirements. In considering the environmental impact assessment (EIA), however, Molewa said she was aware that there were communities along the Wild Coast who might be significantly affected by the construction of the road and who were not consulted. She ordered that their concerns be noted and agreement be reached between them and Sanral. Opponents say this should have been handled during the public participation process. "This has put communities' rights at risk," said Cullinan. Molewa said fears about biodiversity loss would be countered by the "wide-ranging" mitigation measures used. She dismissed an appeal to upgrade the existing road, saying that it was not viable. The green light for the road also called up the ghost of mining in the region. Cullinan believed that miners would now apply for a new mining licence for the Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project. Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu withdrew a mining licence granted to Australian company Mineral Commodities and its South African subsidiary, Transworld Energy and Minerals, in June. Cullinan said the road would make mining economically viable. Regarding the mining, Molewa said: "It cannot be expected of the department of environmental affairs to base decisions on potential future developments on the information generated by the EIA for the proposed road." John Clarke, a development consultant on the Wild Coast, was flabbergasted by the decision, saying the mining project would now find renewed enthusiasm. "There is no doubt in my mind that the mining and the road are linked. This road is economically viable only if it is linked to the mine, and vice versa." Clarke said a lot of money would now have to be spent to fight the road in the high court. "This money was needed for building clinics and upgrading roads," he said. Sanral could not be reached for comment this week. YOLANDI GROENEWALD - Jul 29 2011 http://mg.co.za/article/2011-07-29-outrage-over-n2-approval/

Many more toll roads coming

  • Posted on: 30 May 2011
  • By: JB
Some of the comments are really funny. E.g.: Mifozi, wrote IOL Comments 09:06am on 30 May 2011 IOL Comments Respect your leaders and stop complaining. They have decided that we must pay in many ways to use the roads. Money from the roads sometimes needs to go to more important areas like election campaigns and transport and security for our esteemed leaders. We are striving to be a first world country and need to look good in the eyes of the world. We need our leaders to travel in style so they are respected by other world leaders. Do you expect our leaders to use an old vespa to travel to VIP functions? Do you think it would be classy fir our leader to use an old Nokia 3310 with pay as you go? No. Our leaders need the latest technology and need to travel in the style they have become accustomed to. Just as it's the right thing to pay TV license, it is the right thing to pay your toll fees it is not our right to question who gets these road tenders nor who owns these companies. Doing so would be disrespectful to our leaders. We should get back to work and stop complaining about paying for valuable services. We are not VIPs, we are the working class. We are there to work, they are there to lead and put food onto our dinner tables and provide fir our families. Do not bite the hand that feeds you. Original article: May 30 2011 at 07:41am By Deon De Lange http://www.iol.co.za/motoring/industry-news/many-more-toll-roads-coming-1.1075506 The controversial Gauteng toll road system is just the start of a string of tolls across the country designed to plug a multibillion-rand hole in the government’s road maintenance bill, according to Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele. Responding to a recent parliamentary question, Ndebele revealed that the so-called “user pay” principle - which he claims will only be applied when required - will go some way towards relieving the state’s R149 billion road maintenance shortfall. “The ‘user-pay’ (toll) principle is government policy, but is used selectively and only where feasible, and when used, the benefits outweigh the cost to the road user,” he said. Ndebele also noted that the price tag for maintenance backlogs excluded periodic resurfacing of the road network, the upgrading of gravel roads to tarred surfaces, adding new lanes to existing roads and the construction of new roads to ease congestion on busy routes. The Gauteng toll system was widely criticised earlier this year when the proposed fees of 66c/km were announced, prompting Ndebele to stop the process while he consulted affected constituencies. These include taxi operators, who want to be exempted from the toll fees. Long-haul transport companies have also warned that the new fees will raise the cost of all consumer products as these are transported mainly by road. And they have suggested that, in the absence of an efficient alternative such as rail, companies have little choice but to move products by road. Other tolls in the pipeline include: the N1-N2 Winelands Toll Highway (171km); N2 Wild Coast Toll Highway (560km); R300 Cape Town Ring Road (105km); R30 Bloemfontein to Welkom (160km); N3 Marianhill to Cedara (90km); and the controversial N2 Knysna Bypass (35km). “This is part of the South African National Roads Agency’s long-term planning strategy for the national road network,” the minister said.”Extensive investigation and evaluation would be done before any final decisions were taken about further tolling, he said. “The introduction of toll roads is related to the backlogs that exist with regard to the (national road network) and the associated funding constraints by the fiscus. “This makes it extremely challenging for the required remedial measures to be implemented, as and when required, resulting in the continued deterioration – if not arrested timeously – of the road network,” Ndebele explained. He emphasised that toll fee structures would exclude the initial capital outlay and that users would only be paying for upkeep on the section of road they actually used. Money collected from tolls would also be “ring-fenced” to be used exclusively for maintenance on the applicable route. This comes after an Independent Newspapers investigation revealed on Friday that a private company appeared to have acted as judge, jury and executioner in the Gauteng toll road project. The investigation found that a local road engineering company was contracted to do everything from the initial feasibility studies to the costing of the plans and finally the engineering of the project, including the building and operation of the toll gantries. Sanral has denied any impropriety, saying the company’s services were obtained at a 20 percent discount. The company’s involvement in the feasibility study – and later in other aspects of the project – did not constitute a conflict of interest, Sanral said. However, critics have called for the entire process to be stopped and for all contracts, tenders and agreements to be opened up to public scrutiny. Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven, who has criticised the fact that parts of the project were outsourced to the private sector, has indicated that the trade union federation plans to take the issue to the streets with protest actions. DA Gauteng MPL Jack Bloom has also cried foul, suggesting the closed process followed so far prevents public representatives from ensuring that the government is getting bang for its buck in the project. The minister suggested that the budgets available from the national fiscus were “insufficient” to cover the state’s road maintenance obligations and therefore road users will have to help foot the bill. This will free up available government resources for other roads in need of repair. However, the envisioned tolls will only cover 3 120km – or 2.4 percent – of the country’s 135 000km network of surfaced roads - Political Bureau

Wild Coast plans show preference for mining

Click on the map for full size view (1.5Mb) From: www.iol.co.za February 8, 2011 By Ingi Salgado For some time, the state has withheld two pieces of information with significance for mining along the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. Under much pressure, the government has now released both. Both documents are shocking, but taken together, they paint a cynical picture of a potentially concerted effort to engineer an economically viable dispensation for mining on the Wild Coast running parallel to the planned N2 routewith scant regard for communities and environment.

More hearings on Xolobeni mine scheduled for Feb

By: Christy van der Merwe 26th January 2011 JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – A second task team would be established to hear oral presentations by parties affected by the proposed heavy minerals mine in Xolobeni, which is located on the South African Wild Coast. The hearings would be held at the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR’s) Durban regional office from February 16 to February 18. The task team would then make recommendations to Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, on whether or not to uphold the granting of the licence to mine the Kwanyana block of mineral-rich sands near Xolobeni, or to rescind the licence – as per the appeal from certain community members. Australia-based Mineral Resource Commodities, through its South African subsidiary Transworld Energy & Minerals, was granted a licence to mine for titanium-bearing minerals on a portion of the dunes, in December 2008. The Kwanyana block contains some 139-million tons of heavy titanium-producing minerals, including ilmenite, zircon, leucoxene, and rutile. Of the four blocks making up the Xolobeni project area, the Kwanyana block had the largest measured resource.

Toll fees may be scrapped

TRANSPORT Minister S’bu Ndebele has declined to confirm or deny media reports that the government will scrap toll fees for the controversial N2 Wild Coast highway plan. This follows a recent report by Fin24 which suggests construction of a new highway would go ahead on the scenic Wild Coast – but no longer as a toll road. Fin24 said construction could begin later this year and Ndebele had indicated that funds could come from the National Treasury.But the office of Ndebele’s spokesman, Logan Maistry, has declined to comment on the report, noting the minister’s official position had been spelled out in an article in The Mercury last month. In that article, Ndebele confirmed that there had been “continuous engagement” between his ministry, the government road agency Sanral, the KZN provincial government and other stakeholders.

KZN Cabinet to fight N2 toll road plan

  • Posted on: 15 December 2010
  • By: JB
KZN Cabinet to fight N2 toll road plan Published in: Legalbrief Environmental Date: Tue 14 December 2010 Category: Litigation Issue No: 0193 The KZN Cabinet will go to court to block the N2 Wild Coast toll road because the plan is 'not in the interests of the people of KZN', notes a report in The Mercury. The Cabinet has vowed to 'vehemently' oppose the plan which has twice been approved by the Environmental Affairs Department amid strong protests. Groups have appealed against the environmental impact assessment (EIA) approval process over the past few months after the toll project was approved by the department for the second time earlier this year. The report quotes Premier Zweli Mkhize as saying: 'We are going to write to the Transport Minister to voice our strongest opposition. We are prepared to go to court on this one. We are in full support of the upgrading of the N2 going to the Eastern Cape. Our principle is simple: the toll should be for those receiving the service. This development is not in the interests of the people of KZN.' According to the report, the Cabinet said its opposition to the proposal was based on the fact that the plan would introduce a major new toll plaza near eManzimtoti, raising the cost of commuting and doing business in the southern part of Durban. Critics have argued that the toll gate would generate the lion's share of funds along the Durban to East London route, effectively subsidising the cost of building bridges across the deep river valleys of the Eastern Cape. Full report in The Mercury

N2 Toll Road: Supreme Folly

COMMUNITIES LODGE FINAL OBJECTION Source : Group writers SA Publication : Mercury Date : 10 November 2010 Author : Tony Carnie N2 toll 'an act of supreme folly' PLANS to build a toll road along the Wild Coast have been attacked as "an act of supreme folly" which would destroy one of the country's most valuable natural assets, mainly to enrich road construction companies and an Australian mining group. This is according to lawyers representing communities on the Wild Coast who have lodged final legal objections to prevent the N2 Wild Coast toll road from going ahead. The objection has been lodged by attorney Cormac Cullinan in response to previous submissions by the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral). The contentious toll proposal was approved by the national Environmental Affairs Department earlier this year, but several groups have appealed to the environmental |affairs minister to scrap the project.

Latest developments in the Wild Coast Mining and N2 Toll rd saga

  • Posted on: 15 September 2010
  • By: JB
The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) and Legal Resource Centre (LRC) demands decision from the department “by no later than 28 September 2010”, failing which the matter will be taken to High Court. Social worker John Clarke has provided the following summary of developments, and opinion. Xolobeni Mining  We are still waiting for DG of Mineral Resources, Sandile Nogcina, to announce the outcome of the appeal by the Amadiba Crisis Committee.  It has been over two years since the appeal was lodged. In February this year a special committee was appointed by the DG of Mineral Resources Adv Sandile Nogcina, chaired by ANC MP and President of Contralesa Adv Patekile Holomisa, to consider the appeal and make a recommendation to the Mineral Resources Development Board. The Special Committee has done its job, but are not at liberty to disclose the recommendation they have made to the Minerals Development Board. The attorney handling the matter is Sarah Septhon of LRC, instructing Adv Gilbert Marcus SC and Adv Isabel Goodman. They presented the Special Committee with documentation that, besides containing excellent specialist studies to support their legal argument, included sworn affidavits that attested fraudulent behavior of the mining rights applicants in producing long lists of local residents whose signatures had been forged and many of whom were long deceased, all stating they were in “full agreement with the mining project going ahead”. The ACC were confidently expecting that this deceitful and illegal behavior would have on its own constituted sufficient cause for the Minister to summarily revoke the mining licence. Whatever ambiguities might exist in the legislation governing mining rights (the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act), there is nothing ambiguous about section 47 which empowers the Minister to cancel rights if the applicant has “submitted any inaccurate, incorrect and misleading information…” On instruction from the ACC Sarah has now sent a letter to the Minister demanding a decision in respect of the internal review process “by no later than 28 September 2010”, failing which the matter will be taken to High Court. If the mining rights are upheld by the Minister, the ACC’s legal team is very confident that they will win, even if it has to go all the way to the Constitutional Court, because the community contends that the award of the mining rights is blatantly unconstitutional.  N2 Toll Road  The first N2 Toll Road authorization was set aside in December 2004 by Minister Van Schalkwyk, because of a lack of independence of the EIA consultants.  Rufus Muruma, the executive director of the EIA consultancy Bohlweki and Associates, was found to also be a director of one of the consortium partners, Stewart Scott International, indicating a clear conflict of interests.  It was this fatal flaw which left the Minister with no alternative but set aside the authorization. A new proposal/application was however permitted, provided the requirement for independence of the EIA consultancy was satisfied.  A different firm, CCA Environmental was duly appointed.  They used much of the previous report, including the Social Impact Assessment report, which they deemed to good enough.  The new scoping report was done in 2006 – 2007, the draft EIA in 2008-2009, and the final EIA published in January 2010.   Comments and objections were lodged at the draft stage by the community through their lawyers Cullinan and Associates.  Particular concern was expressed about the lack of detailed information about the proposed route, compensation arrangements, moving of graves, location of access roads underpasses etc.  The Deputy DG of DWEA Joanne Yawitch issued an environmental authorization on 19 April 2010 stipulating various conditions, and inviting objections that the Minister would consider before either endorsing or setting aside the authorization. Objections from several stakeholders were submitted notably;
  • The local Amadiba community who stand to be most significantly affected by the road, and fear that it will render coastal dune mining inevitable.
  • South Coast residents who object to having heavy loaded toll fees that South Coast commuters to Durban will be expected to pay to cross subsidize the construction of the Greenfields section through the Eastern Cape.
  • Many members of Sustaining the Wild Coast objected in their individual capacities to the failure to consider alternative alignments, the overall failure to assess the road impacts in relation to the cumulative impacts of other proposed developments, notably the Xolobeni mining venture, and to poor public participation methods.  
  • Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (Bishop Geoff Davies) objected again to the failure to seriously consider alternative alignments, and to the artificiality of an administrative separation of the EIA procedures from the Intent to toll procedure, which will only ensue after the road is approved.   WESSA and other environmental NGO’s focused on the threat to biodiversity in the Pondoland Centre of Endemism by these developments, in contravention of the Convention of Biological Diversity.    Significantly, the local Amadiba Community are convinced that the N2 Toll Road is ‘carrying a calf’, in that it goes hand in glove with the mining, a proposal which they have already categorically rejected.  They again contracted attorney Cormac Cullinan to lodge their objections, which were largely focused on the concerns about a very poor public consultation process.  They maintain the Public Participation process failed to meet even the very basic requirements in terms of customary law, which requires that all land related matters must be openly discussed at open consultation meetings held under the auspices of the Tribal Authority  at the Tribal Court house or Komkulu  (Great Place).   This never happened, even during the first round EIA Public Participation done by Bohlweki.   In contrast, Cormac did meet with them at the Komkulu, and we arranged to have the proceedings filmed to ensure complete transparency.  A DVD copy was submitted with the objections, together with affidavits from the Queen of the AmaPondo, local residents, and various subject matter specialists arguing that the conclusions and recommendations of the EIA were again fatally flawed, having inter alia failed to take meaningful account of comments and concerns submitted on the scoping report and draft EIA. Sanral lawyers (Bell Dewar and Hall) are apparently trying desperate to counter the objections, which suggest that the confidence SANRAL once had in the EIA report satisfying the legislative requirements was misplaced. The local chief, Lunga Baleni, was approached by one of their consultants asking for him to sign an affidavit stating his retrospective consent – which in itself amounts to a procedural violation. The Dept of Environment tried to exclude the video submission stating that “only written submissions will be entertained”.  They backed down when it was pointed out that many of the affected residents were illiterate and would be seriously prejudiced by the restriction.  Two further issues of major controversy have now come into play, which have major implications as to how the above two controversies will be ultimately resolved. Succession Dispute on Kingship of AmaMpondo The incumbent King of the AmaMpondo, Mpondombini Sigcau, has been deemed by the Commission for Traditional Leadership Claims and Disputes not to be the rightful successor to King Mandlonke who died in 1937 without fathering a male heir.   Legal counsel to the Royal family are flabbergasted by the finding and the next tier AmaPondo Traditional Leadership and other members of the Royal House are currently mobilizing to challenge to the Commission and President Zuma’s endorsement of its findings. Adv Patrick Mtshualana (SC) instructed by Moray Hathorn of Webber Wentzel Attorneys is representing the Royal Family in the matter. Webber Wentzel attorneys have taken on the case on a pro-bono basis because, according to Moray “a gross injustice to my clients appears to have been done, which cannot go unchallenged”.  Given that the incumbent Royal house have vigorously opposed Government plans to impose macro development projects on the AmaMpondo, - notably the Xolobeni Mining, N2 Toll Road and Umzimvubu Dam scheme, - the working assumption is that the Commission has been manipulated by influential people with corrupt political and commercial agendas to subvert the only governance institutions that has consistently and courageously stood up for the constitutional rights of the rural amaPondo residents. Proposed curbs on Media: Several award winning environmental and business journalists have appealed for support in their struggle to prevent the enacting of proposed Media Tribunal and Protection for Information Bills, advocated by the ANC.     Both SWC and the incumbent Royal Family have added their voice to the opposition, because over the ten year struggle, journalists have engaged extensively in the ‘Wild Coast’ debate to highlight contradictions, challenge authoritarian assumptions, help to publicize and uncover coercion, fraud, power mongering, politicking, incompetence, human rights abuses and abuse of power, give a voice to the poor and disenfranchised, and tell the stories and perspectives of those whose lives will be drastically changed by these Macro Development schemes Assessment and analysis: With respect to the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road, instead of SANRAL acting as a state owned and democratically accountable referee to ensure the commercial motives of the Private Sector do not dominate over the common good and claimed “national interest”, it assumed the role of ‘scheme developer’ from the Private Sector Wild Coast Consortium after their supposed ‘unsolicited bid’ was found to be fatally flawed because of vested interests.  Assuming scheme developer status on behalf of a private sector consortium seems at complete variance with the terms of reference one would expect from a state owned institution serving as ‘referee’ to ensure both a fair game between competing commercial enterprises, and above all the non exploitation of those whose money and assets would be called upon to sustain the “game”.    Instead, after Bolwheki was ‘red carded’ for foul play, and the WCC faded with embarrassment from the game, Sanral appeared instead as both player and referee.    Surely the responsible thing to have done after the possible ‘match fixing’ was revealed was to start the whole game over from scratch with a new set of players.    Those who had objected to the first EIA hoped that things would be more transparent the second time round. In fact, as the reality of how rural residents really felt about the N2 Toll road has become more frank, the real interests of SANRAL and their corporate clients became correspondingly opaque.   Vast sums of money have been spent on the new EIA, and while one can sympathize with those dedicated professionals who have worked hard to give sound analysis, the parameters within which their work has been framed appears rigged to achieve an outcome predetermined by remote, faceless and exploitative political and economic interests: interests that will neither serve the AmaMpondo people nor conserve the Wild Coast biodiversity, archeological and cultural heritage.  Likewise with respect to the Xolobeni mining venture, the officials from the  Department of Mineral Resources, supposedly the custodian of mineral wealth held on behalf of all citizens and having a primary constitutional responsibility to promote the interests of historically disadvantaged rural residents whose lives and livelihoods will be irreversibly changed by the mining scheme, continue to act with bias toward the interests of foreign mining entrepreneurs and their blatantly corrupt BEE partners. How the DG of Mineral Resources can continue to entertain the idea of upholding the mining rights beggars belief, because there is incontrovertible evidence that massive fraud has been committed.     Connecting the above dots, a pattern emerges which ought to alarm all who cherish our constitutional democracy– not only those who cherish the Pondoland Wild Coast.    There is no doubt in my mind that the proposed Protection of Information Bill is motivated by fears among some very senior government officials and politicians that blatant conflicts of interests stand to be exposed.    Having engaged with all legitimate stakeholders in the course of my social work intervention on the Wild Coast - from Cabinet ministers to illiterate elderly men like Samson Gampe living sustainable livelihoods from subsistence agriculture -  I believe that both the N2 Toll Road and Xolobeni Mining schemes fall far short of what section 24 of the Bill of Rights states as “justifiable social and economic development”.     The reticence of state stakeholders to be transparent has left me with no other option but to conclude that the interests which are keeping the mining and toll road schemes alive are much the same as those which fuelled the exploitation and injustice of the colonial and apartheid era’s of our history:  the accumulation of power and wealth from mineral extraction at the expense of vulnerable people and fragile eco-systems. Four years ago after the well known human rights attorney Richard Spoor first met with the Amadiba Community he warned that they could expect two well tried and tested strategies used against those who stand in the way of commercially driven corporate entities out to make quick and lucrative profits:  Cooption and/or Subversion.   The Amadiba Community and Royal House have courageously countered the ‘cooption’ tactics by recourse to what Queen Sigcau calls “civil courage” – standing their ground and insisting on their constitutional rights.  Things were beginning to look very promising in terms of local people’s concerns being given a hearing.  But the two recent developments – the proposed media curbs and attempt to depose King Mpondombini – leave me personally feeling that if these two long ‘ladders’-  which have been absolutely crucial to our success -  are removed from the board, the Long Walk to Freedom that Nelson Mandela embarked upon seventy years ago will have to start all over again. In short, while SWC volunteers have gone to extreme lengths to try to achieve resolution to the issues without resort to judicial remedies in court, it seems extremely likely that this is now inevitable. But if we compare the situation we faced in December 2004, when the first proposal for the N2 Toll Road was set aside, with the situation we face today, we are much more confident that the courts have even more compelling grounds to firstly revoke the mining rights and secondly to refer the N2 Wild Coast toll Road proposal back to SANRAL. The feeling on the ground is that, masked behind the Xolobeni mining, N2 Wild Coast Toll road and now traditional leadership challenge, are fundamentally corrupt corporate and political interests. When challenged, in the absence of a constitutionally defensible case, the only advantage that such interests have is deep pockets to fund litigation by attrition. Films on You Tube For those who have access to a fast broadband internet connection we have put films up on YouTube, on a channel called “Icosindaba”, which SWC member John Clarke has set up. There is a very interesting interview with local Induna from the Sigidi Village Mr Samson Gampe, filmed as evidence to substantiate the objections of the Amadiba Residents to the N2 Toll Road proposal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXaE0VgTgps For the full historical context a three part series called Wild Coast Development, Dreams and Disruptions is also featured, containing footage from 50:50 programs dating as far back as 2003. Seven years of drama has been distilled down to 24 minutes of documentary narrative.
  • Part 1.  Wild Coast Development: Dreams (5 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVfsvyMszLA
  • Part 2:  Disruptions: Toll Road or ‘Troll’ Road.  (10 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DalsHKXCTEs
  • Part 3.  Disruptions: Avatar Again! (10 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TjJelYvwxE Claire Johnston (of Mango Groove fame) and Jeff Maluleke gave permission for us to use tracks from their album Starehe: An African Day, which they recorded to support environmental initiatives. Cartoonist Andy Mason likewise contributed his professional talent in a cartoon strip.
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