Wild Coast plan to boost region by R40bn


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

Yes to Eco-TourismYes to Eco-Tourismwww.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.

Sustaining the Wild Coast's (SWC) focuses on assisting traditional rural communities living along Pondoland's Wild Coast, in the northern coastal regions of the former Transkei of South Africa's Eastern Cape Province, to create a positive future for themselves. You can view the SWC Awesome SA article here.

SWC works with Wild Coast communities to find sustainable solutions that improve local livelihood prospects, while respecting local cultural traditions and maintaining the wealth of natural biodiversity and unique ‘sense of place’ that the Wild Coast is re-known for. One of SWC's focus area's involves promoting public awareness about issues and concerns affecting the Wild Coast and its residents, through articles and news reports and by assisting and encouraging journalists, writers and film-makers to provide in-depth and well-informed coverage of topics concerning the area.

Two recent developments causing much concern for local people are ongoing proposals to open cast mining in the area, and the proposed routing of a tolled highway, a new extension to the existing N2 national road, through the region. SWC's dedicated Too Great a Toll fund is helping Wild Coast communities with resources to legally challenge the government's approval of the N2 ‘Wild Coast’ tolled highway. The Wild Coast communities are legally challenging the lack of proper consultation and other serious legal deficiencies in the N2 proposals Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Red Sands of XolobeniRed Sands of Xolobeni

In Richard Branson's Screw Business as Usual, he is calling for people to turn capitalism upside down – to shift our values, to switch from a profit focus to caring for people, communities and the planet. He inspires both businesses and individuals to embark on a whole new way of doing things, solving major problems and turning our work into something we both love and are proud of.

Imagine if those driving the open cast mining and the building of a tolled highway - through one of the most pristine and unique wild areas of South Africa - would alternatively put their money into the following areas. Support the people who live on the Wild Coast in maintaining their cultural and ecological heritage, as Sustaining the Wild Coast is doing, with the following projects:-

  • Skills development, mentorship, leadership and entrepreneurial development programmes.
  • Skilling local residents and schools in permaculture cultivation methods, knowledge of indigenous plants, establishing indigenous plant nurseries and food gardens, and addressing and reversing environmental degradation.
  • Promoting eco-tourism development initiatives along the Wild Coast which includes training hiking guides, establishing guided hikes, helping local people set up community based ‘homestays’ and networking with other eco-tourism development organisations to promote responsible eco-tourism.
  • Assisting Wild Coast communities with advocacy, legal representation and specialist advice to enable them to 'own their future'.

    Daily Sun - 17 September 2008: Click on the pic to view the article.Daily Sun - 17 September 2008: Click on the pic to view the article.

    Awesome SA is calling on South Africans who value and are proud of our country, to support the rural communities living on the Pondoland Wild Coast. We are calling for support from all areas of the globe and ask that you add your voices to the call of the Pondoland people.

    Sustaining the Wild Coast needs support, because you know what... the future is not a place that we are going to go; it’s a place that we are going to create. Please reference Too Great A Toll when making donations to assist the Pondoland people in funding the legal challenge to sustain the Wild Coast. More details can be found on the SWC website www.swc.org.za. You can follow SWC on Twitter - @SWCOAST & on Facebook - SustainingtheWildCoast.


    Wild Coast Fund Raising CalendarWild Coast Fund Raising Calendar

    Click here to order!


    Mining of the Wild Coast dunes

    The 'Greenfields' section of the N2 Toll road through Pondoland

    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.

    They need support to gain access to information and effective legal representation in their planned court challenge, over government`s failure to engage them in open and transparent decision making about the N2 Wild Coast `Troll` Road, and the award of mining rights for the Xolobeni mineral sands. The `developments` will benefit cash-rich outsiders and be paid for by cash-poor rural residents and the natural environment.

    This is more than just a calendar.
    It is a collaborative work of art that magnifies the spectacular natural beauty of the place and amplifies the heartfelt convictions of the people on how development decisions ought to be made in a democratic society.

    Calendar Details
    . A3 wall calendar with wiro binding
    . Beautiful photographs taken by world renowned environmental photographer, Cheryl Alexander

    Page a month with challenging quotes from traditional leaders, elected local political representatives and youth activists.

    Another Controversial African Highway


    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#i...

    Taking the "wild" out of the Wild Coast

    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

    http://www.themercury.co.za/wild-coast-toll-road-decision-is-shameful-1.... 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?

    N2 Toll road decision

    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".

    Outrage over N2 approval

    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."

    Many more toll roads coming

    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


    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

    Central planning 1-2-3: mining, road, power: Click on the map for full size view (1.5Mb)Central planning 1-2-3: mining, road, power: 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 Power to the mining!: running parallel to the planned N2 routePower to the mining!: running parallel to the planned N2 routewith scant regard for communities and environment.

    The first document came in the form of the terms of reference issued by roads agency Sanral to an environmental consultancy for the proposed N2 toll highway, which hugs the coastal sites that prospective miners are eyeing. The terms of reference specifically instruct the consultant to provide “a strong motivation for excluding the R61 and current N2 as options”.

    Imagine the outrage if the assessment for a fictional new highway between Durban and Johannesburg was not compared with the impact of upgrading the N3.

    That we even have sight of these terms of reference is thanks to Cullinan & Associates, which applied under the Promotion of Access to Information Act. It acts for the Sigidi, Baleni and Mdatya communities, the Khimbili Property Association and residents in the amaDiba tribal authority.

    The law firm first successfully opposed environmental authorisation for the proposed N2 highway in 2004, sending Sanral back to the drawing board.

    Senior director Cormac Cullinan says: “It’s indisputable that if the new road doesn’t go ahead, it will have a major impact on the financial viability of mines... That’s a strong reason why they didn’t want to consider the existing route.”

    The toll road appeal is now with the Department of Environmental Affairs. Cullinans alleges Sanral appears to have intended to mislead the minister because the agency initially denied its consultant had been specifically excluded from considering certain alternatives.

    The second document to come to light is the nearly year-old report by Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA chief Patekile Holomisa, who led a task team assessing the award of a 2008 mining right to Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources to mine titanium on the Kwanyana block of Xolobeni on the Wild Coast.

    The Department of Mineral Resources finally made Holomisa’s report public last week, and it is rather instructive. It points out that Transworld indicated a feasibility study would be carried out “as soon as the mining right is formally granted” – whereas the law requires proof that the mineral can be mined optimally. The report asks whether Transworld was allowed to dictate the processing of the application.

    It also points out the mining right was granted without an environmental impact assessment, environmental management plan or further attention given to any of the department’s own stated requirements.

    There was no study of the benefits of mining versus ecotourism and issues raised by the Department of Environmental Affairs were not addressed. The Department of Mineral Resources opted to reconvene the task team, which will hold hearings in Durban this month.

    There is a third leg to the saga, a legal wrangle over the Commission for Traditional Leadership’s decision to dislodge amaPondo King Mpondombini Sigcau from the throne. Webber Wentzel says “a gross injustice to (our) clients appears to have been done, which cannot go unchallenged”.

    Is it a coincidence that the deposed royals oppose both the Xolobeni mining and the N2 toll road?

    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.

    The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) then appealed the awarding of the licence in early 2009, stating that the community was not properly consulted.

    In February 2010, the Minerals and Mining Development board, which advises the Minister of Mineral Resources, appointed a committee headed by Phatekile Holomisa, which received documentation from affected parties, and compiled a report, which it submitted to the Minister.

    No further information was given about the report, affected parties requested sight of it but have never seen it.

    The DMR, in January, stated that the Holomisa report was merely an interim report, which did not contain any firm recommendations on the merit or demerit of the appeals.

    It was described as an “interim measure that addressed procedure rather than substance”, and recommended that other stakeholders be afforded the opportunity to provide input to a panel to finalise the appeal.

    “Our clients are extremely concerned that it has taken almost a year from the time the Holomisa task team made its recommendations to the Minister for her to come to a decision, and then only to decide to hold further hearings. The panel that is to hear the matter has still not been constituted and the Minister appears not to have applied her mind to the appeal at all,” said Legal Resources Centre (LRC) representative Sarah Sephton.

    The Grahamstown-based LRC is representing the ACC.

    The DMR was currently in the process of inviting nominations for new panel members, and the panel would be headed by the DMR legal services director, as the chairperson.

    The panel would consist of: an environmental expert nominated by the DMR, a nominated official from the DMR Mineral Regulation branch, an environmental expert nominated by the Department of Environmental Affairs, a representative nominated by the Department of Land Affairs, a representative nominated by the Provincial Department of Economic Affairs, Eastern Cape, a representative nominated by the OR Tambo district municipality, and a representative nominated by the Bizana municipality.

    MRC South Africa GM John Barnes confirmed that the company had been informed of the new hearings through a letter from the DMR, and also that the company had not been informed of any recommendations put forward in the first report.

    Barnes added that while the company awaited the DMR decision on the granting of the Xolobeni licence, it was moving ahead with its Tormin mineral sands project on the west coast of South Africa.

    Sephton stated that the delays were prejudicial to the LRC’s clients.

    “In the meantime, our clients are still unable to make any use of the land in question. Prior to the grant of the prospecting licence, an important eco-tourism project was under way in the Xolobeni area. Since then, however, all efforts to further this project have been unsuccessful and our clients have suffered important financial losses as a result,” she explained.

    She added that the harmony within the community has also suffered as conflicts have emerged between the proponents of the mining initiative and those who favour the eco-tourism plan as a means to develop the region.

    “There can be no healing until a final decision is made. These lengthy and unexplained delays have marked this entire process and are quite frankly ludicrous,” Sephton exclaimed.

    Posted on January 31st, 2011

    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.

    The latest news report follows a statement last month in which the KZN government threatened to go to court to oppose any move to erect toll booths south of Durban to help finance the construction of a new greenfields route along the Wild Coast.

    Nevertheless, there have been several other indications that Sanral and other parties have been working behind the scenes to clear the pathway for a new route on the Wild Coast.

    Although the national Department of Environmental Affairs gave the green light last year, several groups have lodged legal objections with the current environment minister, Edna Molewa.

    Sanral chief Nazir Alli said he had no reason to doubt the Fin24 report, but he was not aware that any final decision had been reached on the tolls. “It is true that there have been discussions and we will continue to look at various funding models. Funding is always the big issue, but if the National Treasury tells us to build the road, we will build it.”
    However, Cape Town attorney Cormac Cullinan said that even if toll fees were dropped, Sanral still faced significant legal and procedural hurdles.

    Cullinan, who has lodged an objection on behalf of local communities in the Pondoland region of the Wild Coast, says documents obtained during a recent Promotion of Access to Information Act application suggested that the independence of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) had been significantly compromised.
    Nevertheless, the Democratic Alliance has welcomed the reported decision by Ndebele to block plans to levy further tolls.

    The party’s KZN transport spokesman, Radley Keys, said he had introduced a motion in the provincial parliament eight years ago against further toll booths in KZN.
    “The outcome, of what has been a protracted debate at both provincial and national level, shows that our steadfast commitment to this cause? produces results. We now welcome the united voice against tolling that has been adopted by all parties in the province.”

    source: Group writers SA
    Author: Tony Carnie
    Date: 25 January 2011

    KZN Cabinet to fight N2 toll road plan

    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


    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.

    In the latest submission, Cullinan disputes claims by Sanral that building a new toll road along the Wild Coast would help to create jobs and uplift rural communities in Pondoland.

    He represents the Khimbili communal property owners' association and members of the Sigidi, Baleni, Mdatya and Amadiba communities.

    "The Wild Coast communities who we represent and who live in these areas have clearly and repeatedly expressed their frustrations at the inadequacies of the public participation process and their opposition to the N2 toll road," said Cullinan.

    "They know that the decision to authorise construction of the greenfields sections of the proposed N2 will expedite the mining of the magnificent coastline in that area and threaten their way of life."

    Cullinan's comment on mining refers to the Australian group Mineral Resource Commodities (MRC), which was recently granted approval to mine titanium and other heavy minerals from the Xolobeni area of the Wild Coast.


    He said the titanium mine at Xolobeni was close to the route of the proposed N2 toll road and that mining was unlikely to be profitable if the mining company had to bear the cost of building a major road to transport mineral ores away from the Wild Coast.

    "Our clients do not oppose the improvement of the N2 road between Durban and East London, or making it a toll road if that is necessary to fund the upgrading. Their opposition is to the decision to divert the existing N2 through the tranquil and beautiful area of the Wild Coast in which the AmaMpondo people live, and to impose this decision on them without proper consultation and against their wishes," said Cullinan. He likened the economic value of the Wild Coast to Table Mountain in Cape Town, which contributed enormously to the local economy.

    "In this case, the exceptional beauty of this coastline and the unique culture of the AmaMpondo, together with the unique ecosystems and plants endemic to the area, have combined to create an area of immense natural beauty which will be severely degraded by constructing the highway through it.

    "The Wild Coast is justifiably famous throughout South Africa and many parts of the world, and its value will continue to increase as other wild places elsewhere become degraded? Driving a major toll highway through it is an act |of supreme folly and is wholly unnecessary."

    According to Cullinan, the environmental affairs minister had no legal alternative but to scrap the toll road proposal because the environment impact assessment had not considered the full socio-economic impacts of tolling.

    There had been two Constitutional Court cases (Fuel Retailers and Wary Holdings) which made it clear that the minister was obliged to consider socio-economic factors such as tolling.

    Cullinan appealed to the minister to visit the Wild Coast to meet the people and to experience the beauty of the area before making a final decision.

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

    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.

    ANC outrage at toll roads


    ANC outrage at toll roads
    2 June 2010
    By Arthi Sanpath and Bheki Mbanjwa

    Opposition to toll roads in the Durban area is building to tsunami proportions as the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal urged motorists to avoid the new King Shaka International Airport toll.

    It also said it was flabbergasted at the tolling decisions, including the proposed booths on the N2 just south of Durban. In its most damning criticism yet of the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), ANC provincial secretary, Sihle Zikalala, said people should use the alternative route (R102) to and from the airport.

    The party's provincial executive committee this week also said the idea of erecting a toll road near Amanzimtoti was ill-conceived, one that would impact negatively on commuters.

    It criticised Sanral for not consulting stakeholders such as the eThekwini Municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal government.

    "The ANC is flabbergasted by Sanral's approach of constructing tollgates without even consulting the people who are affected by such tollgates. The ANC in KZN will continue to engage the national Minister of Transport, S'bu Ndebele, with a view to stopping the construction of the proposed tollgate," Zikalala said.

    Petition submission

    "The only real and sustainable industry that can uplift and feed the communities in the areas of Pondoland and Transkei, is Tourism. All the natural assets are there to be managed correctly. The surest and quickest way to destroy a world renowned wilderness area is to cut a highway through its heart." -Fred Orban

    For those interested, the attached N2_petition-email.pdf was submitted and officially accepted by the department yesterday. (This "public" version attached herewith has had the email addresses stripped out for obvious reasons.)

    As at 19 May 2010 - 9:00AM - 1711 people had signed the Petition at www.wildcoast.co.za/ict4d/petition.

    CASABIO Protest

    CASABio (Collaborative Archive of South African Biodiversity) is an NGO dedicated to the conservation of the earth's species.

    Their bottom line is: get involved!!!
    It's one way you CAN help protect our natural heritage.

    CASABIO have submitted the following protest posters against the destruction of our Pondoland Center of Endemism:

    Sign the Petition at www.wildcoast.co.za/ict4d/petition before the close of business on Tuesday 18 May 2010!


    Watch 50/50 on Monday 10 May, SABC2 at 19:30: interview with Bishop Geoff Davies about the N2 toll road.Watch 50/50 on Monday 10 May, SABC2 at 19:30: interview with Bishop Geoff Davies about the N2 toll road.Bishop Geoff Davies - 6 May 2010

    The Wild Coast continues to be under threat from both the application to undertake sand dune mining and the N2 toll highway. The record of decision (ROD) for the N2 toll road was released on 19 April. It is stated that objections need to be made before 19th May. We are asking for an extension to this deadline but we are also told that DEAT is requiring a notice of intention to appeal. We attach this notice. We write now to ask that if you are registered as an Interested and Affected Party (I&AP) and wish to appeal, that you send in this form.

    Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) will shortly issue a brief outline regarding our concerns. We believe it best if comments come from a denomination or a congregation or a faith community, though an individual may also object. If you are not registered as an I&AP but wish to object, please do it through SAFCEI. We will include your appeal with ours.

    Petition against the destruction of the Pondoland Center of Endemism

    Please sign the petition online here:


    Development, for the people of Pondoland, does not depend solely on the N2 toll road passing through the greenfields of this fragile biosphere.

    However the continued existence of the PCE does, without a doubt, depend on it not doing so.

    Please sign this petition and forward it to everyone you can.

    Read more here: www.wildcoast.co.za/tollroad

    Thank you.

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