The era of open communication
I posted the following comment on a local resort owners blog (http://chintsa.blogspot.com/) after he came out in favor of the N2 toll road. Needless to say it never went past moderation:
<i>I believe your side of the argument is commonly known as "enlightened self interest": you own a resort on the coast and stand to benefit greatly from any infrastructural improvements and tourism opportunities. Fair enough.
What about the people that will actually have an 80m wide swathe of concrete and tarmac running through their back yards? Separating families and friends with a fenced off high-speed *toll* road that cuts them off from their pastures, fields and coastal subsistence livelihoods?
Never mind the environmental impact, it's the social impact that will be the most grievous. And considering the area, that's saying a lot!
Did you know that they plan to fence off the entire road to enhance safety? and that there will be limited on/off ramps? So if you want to get to, say, Port Grosvenor or Msikaba, you will still have to detour well away from the N2. It will be, if anything, more difficult and inconvenient to get to the remote areas.
No there aren't going to be taxi stops every 5km, or underpasses every 2 for the peasant's convenience.
Have you ever seen the people desperately taking life in hand trying to cross the N2 north of Hibberdene in holiday season? You can see how much they benefit from having access to a "freeway" just by the standard of their informal dwellings.
The worst part of this nightmare is that the existing road between Umtata and PSJ is one of the coolest drives in the country. They're not improving the road much in my opinion by simply forcing people to now pay to access it. And that will benefit the locals how? by sending up transport prices and the cost of /everything/ along with it?
PSJ may benefit, but it's not exactly a tourism Mecca, and the kind of tourists it attracts are backpackers. Umngazi certainly doesn't even need the marginal extra convenience.
The purpose of the toll road is 2-fold: to make money for the operators and for their government backers, and to open one of the most beautiful and pristine environments to commercial (industrial, agricultural) exploitation. Yes, that means mining, too. As inevitably as night follows day. And for what? to shave off half an hour on an already perfectly serviceable route between Port Edward and Port St Johns?
Something does not compute.
Regardless of how government presents the statistics, we have experienced a sharp decline in international tourists in Southern Africa since 2000. Our political outlook and alliances sees little hope for improvement there.
By all means upgrade the Jikeleza route, but leave the greenfields of the Pondoland Center of ENDEMISM the hell alone. Please.</i>