Toll road

Fuel levy stats 2013

This is an excellent article by Roland Giesler, written in 2014, with facts about the fuel levy.

There have been many heated debates and commentaries on the current state of affairs surrounding toll roads in South Africa, but for the sake of clarity, I think it can be summarised as follows:

1. SANRAL, by way of it’s logic challenged spokesman, Vusi Mona, and it’s clearly equally challenged minister,  Dipuo Peters, claims that it is not possible to fund road maintenance and new infrastructure from the fiscus and thus we need toll roads.  “Government has mandated them to do this.”
Update: They have finally indicated that an additional R3.65 added to the fuel levy would have to be implemented as an alternative to tolling, thus bringing the fuel levy to R5.77 per liter.

2. Various parties have mounted legal challenges to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.  OUTA and the DA have taken the matter to court, but to date have failed to make convincing enough claims to stop the projects.

I have often asked myself how much money the state collects via the fuel levy and haven’t heard much comment on that.  (update: Outa has done so since the first version of this post)  However, this comment on MyBroadband on the matter of conventional tolling of the Western Cape’s freeways, made me decide to analyse the situation to get some clarity.

Fuel Levy Stats

In more detail:

According to Shell & SAPIA in 2014 the following applied:

Fuel Levies Collected

Now, since SANRAL has to publish it’s Annual Financial Statements, we can see what they actually spend.  It seems much more has been collected that was used! (Remember there are toll fees in this income already from many toll roads across South Africa)

Sanral Financial Data

It’s also relevant to note how SANRAL views depreciation of the assets under it’s control:

Sanral Depreciation

Minister Peters also recently said that the backlog to fix South Africa’s roads is R197 billion.  We don’t know what that is based on and that it’s probably wrong, based on the the other Peters track record.  But, for the sake of the argument, let’s assume a 50 year loan for that amount (@ 8.5% as per the world-bank rate for South Africa). That would cost  R1.415 billion per month, or R16.99 billion per year to pay back, leaving R30 billion for ongoing maintenance and new projects not included in the R197 backlog.

2014 Fuel Levies application

According to SANRAL, it receives R10 billion annually from the fiscus currently, which is of course too little to do their work (source: SANRAL Non Toll Budget 2013/2014).  It looks like a sinister movie plot, but it’s not:

    • The Ministry of Finance assigns less than 22% of the fuel levy to the purpose for which it was collected.
    • Toll roads are constructed, despite fierce opposition to the plans, since there’s “not enough money
    • Furthermore the government pension funds risks “investing” in SANRAL in lieu of the GPIF tolling project.
    • Only once, in 2003, was there a one month statutory appeal period to register objections to the Western Cape N1/N2 Toll Road project, the appeals which minister of transport summarily dismissed.

What is going on here?  Surely a legal challenge to the misappropriation of funds can be mounted and the effects thereof reversed?  After all, it was Barend du Plessis, under the “dreaded apartheid regime” that instated this fiscal travesty by dumping the fuel levy into the fiscus, ending the road fund (the South African NP government was facing serious financial problems at the time).  In effect he raided the road fund.  Exactly what the South African ANC government is now doing.South Africa, by way of it’s road users, has paid R324 billion to keep its roads in good shape, yet the Government has thought it totally in order to misappropriate R224 billion (that is R 224 000 000 000) of that money.  To add injury to insult, it now wants to collect more than R1 000 000 per month from the Gauteng freeway users alone, to “cover the debt incurred to upgrade the Gauteng Freeways”.

How will this be stopped and reversed?

Will OUTA, the DACosatu, the EFF and others take on the Ministry of Finance and it’s sinister plot to double-tax us continuously?

Or will the people of South Africa take matters into their own hands as the people of Brittany in France have?

In 2010, it seems, the idea of a dedicated road maintenance fund was put forward by S’bu Ndebele, transport minister at the time, although it seems the DA had been promoting the idea for some time before.  So if this is being planned, why is SANRAL forging ahead with its tolling regime?

There are those that claim this is part of UN agenda 21. Watching and reading about it, does seem to make some sense, in a bizarre way, of what SANRAL and the ANC are doing, but please decide for yourself.  At least it seems there are people brave enough to come forward and spill the beans!

South Africa’s ruling party is making a grave mistake if they think that they can continue on this path of reckless unaccountability in the face of the South Africa’s people.

In the words of an old “struggle stalwart”: Enough is enough!

Source: Lifeboysays

One of the bridges will cross this Mtentu River gorge

Funding will be made available for the N2 Wild Coast project but the route will be tolled.

FUNDING for the controversial N2 Wild Coast Toll Road project, including its two mega-bridges and the seven other bridges that will need to be built, will come from the Medium Term Budget.

However, South Coast motorists should expect to contribute to the costs. They will have to pay toll fees when they travel this route after its upgrade.
In his recent Medium Term Budget Policy Statement speech, Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan singled out the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road as an example of investment in economic infrastructure in line with the National Development Plan.

Dumisani Maluleke, the deputy chief financial officer of the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) said the minister had announced that this and the Moloto Road upgrades would be tolled.

He said Sanral welcomed government’s commitment to infrastructure spending, its backing of Sanral projects and its support for the principal of tolling. Mr Maluleke pointed out that reductions in public sector spending and increased investment in physical infrastructure, including roads, were recurring themes of the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.

“This framework is of significant importance to Sanral because it demonstrates government’s commitment to infrastructure investment in general – and roads in particular – and offers advance indications of long-term shifts in expenditure or revenue patterns that might be in the pipeline,” he said.

One of six issues singled out as causing rising spending pressures across the public finances was the funding of South Africa’s road infrastructure.
Mr Maluleke explained that congestion was increasing on the national road network and the condition of many provincial roads was deteriorating. However, there was uncertainty about the funding model for expansion and maintenance.

He pointed out that the budget statement had concluded that, if government did not proceed with tolling to fund major freeways, difficult trade-offs would need to be confronted to avoid a deterioration in the national road network.

“The principle of the user-pays or tolling, to fund major road infrastructure projects, has been endorsed at the highest level,” he said.

Mr Maluleke also pointed out that the statement did not say anything about the e-tolls project being cancelled.

Source: South Coast Herald

Proposed N2 through PCE greenfields

Report questions economics of highway

The release on Monday of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road Today report, which was compiled by economists Professor Gavin Maasdorp and Allen Jorgensen and commissioned by Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC), evaluated whether state spending of a new 85km highway is justified by the benefits, and if it is worth the risks.

While the road would shorten the trip from Durban to East London, the economists question the costs involved in creating a new road with exorbitantly-priced bridges compared to upgrading the current route. The report recommends that a new study be conducted which takes into account social costs and uses updated financial assumptions.

Construction of the multi-billion rand N2 Wild Coast toll road was given the green light in January this year. The project promises to create more than 6 700 direct jobs over a period of five years.

Mbulelo Peterson, manager of Sanral’s southern region, said: “Mtentu and Msikaba bridges are expected to cost in the order of R2.5bn and the remaining green fields section an additional R5bn to R6bn.”

However, the latest report shows that assumptions made with regard to projected revenue and traffic volumes simply no longer apply while costs have mushroomed, invalidating the original cost benefit analysis.

It reveals that construction costs increased by 45% to 55% over the past eight years, pushing up the cost whereas the growth rate in the economy has declined dramatically. Projected growth in traffic volumes is consequently way below the forecast, it showed.

Project would be extremely reckless – SWC

SWC chairperson Margie Pretorius said that given the enormous fiscal pressure on Treasury and requests from local communities to spend money on upgrading the existing road network, it is self-evident that it would be “extremely reckless” to build a high speed toll road and two huge bridges now.

SWC represents affected residents of the Amadiba Traditional Community who are directly impacted by the new road.

“Sanral boasts about the magnificence of the mega bridges over the Msikaba and Mtentu gorges, but their justification for the R2.5bn price tag is ludicrous,” said Pretorius.

“It would be far better for that money to be spent on alternative lower cost, small-scale road improvements and bridge building that could bring the desired economic growth and development to the area and be more appropriate in these challenging economic times.”

Pretorius said Sanral had secured Treasury funding for the bridges, but admitted it has no approved plan yet for finding the R6bn needed to connect them up.

“It would be highly irresponsible for Sanral to proceed with the contracting process without clear funding in place for the road, as this would leave stranded assets that have cost billions and are useless,” said Pretorius.

“Sanral is acting highly inappropriately by advertising for tenders and raising expectations within the construction industry before all legal objections to the toll road have been heard.”

Read more ... Business Tech

The deadline for public comments on the new N2 Wild Coast Toll road EIA is 22 January.

Please send your comments to:

Theo Hansford
NMA Effective Social Strategists (Pty) Ltd.
Box 32097
Braamfontein, 2017.
Fax: 086 601 0381
Email: theohatnma [dot] org [dot] za

A number of requests were received from people who wished to send in comments against the N2 toll road proposal and in support of SWC (Sustaining the Wild Coast - www.swc.org.za) principles. Val Payn compiled the following (below) for general use. Please feel free to adapt or adjust it however you see fit. You can delete anything you don't personally agree with, or feel free to add any of your own comments that you feel it does not cover, or are more suitable for your own circumstances. You're also welcome to 'personalize' the wording in whatever way you like. However, if you would like to send it exactly as it is, then it is recommended that you include a 'provisio' along the lines of:-

We/ I support the concerns expressed by Sustaining the Wild Coast in reference to the N2 Wild Coast Toll road EIA which are summarily expressed below. Please note these as independent commentaries from ... ( add your name/s / contact details) .

Note that this is a summary of some of the main points that SWC has raised in its N2 EIA commentary:

Although the new EIA process professes to give an independent assessment of the merits of the proposal it is still saddled with dealing with the problems of an extensive infrastructure proposal, with far reaching and long term consequences for future national and regional development, that was developed as an isolated and unsolicited bid by a consortium of private bidding companies whose primary motivation was profit, rather than arising out of an integrated and comprehensive regional development plan. The underlying justifications and motivations for the N2 Toll road are therefore still highly clouded by the originating controversies that gave rise to the 2004 EIA Appeal Review.

There is still no adequate justification for a tolled highway that alternatives would not meet, particularly in its routing through the ‘Greenfields’ section of the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism. Justification for the route is derived primarily from the route being convenient from a road engineering point of view, which perspective sublimates broader social development and ecological considerations to secondary status. Upgrading existing routes or routing the N2 out of the PCE will still provide the same regional socio -economic benefits without the accompanying risk of environmental degradation to the PCE which the proposed route risks.

The proposed route through the Greenfields section does not serve the most densely settled area’s of this region, therefore how is it going to improve access for the majority of local populations unless the regional road network as a whole is improve? If the regional road network is improved, is there still adequate justification for a tolled national highway? It is questionable whether the N2, or a tolled route, is the most suitable infrastructure to provide needed improved access to isolated communities. Justifying a tolled highway on the basis of better access, without a preliminary investigation into what sort of access would bring most benefits and be most suitable for the social and ecological conditions of the area, borders on propagandizing and a case of ‘putting the cart before the horse’. Surely the route of the road should be dependent upon the outcomes of social development policies rather than the other way round?

The public consultation process is inadequate. Namely, the origins of the proposal originated as a business venture, rather than out of an assessment of local and regional needs. This means that all subsequent ‘consultation’ has been geared toward finding justification for the proposal, rather than beginning from a base which first determined local need, and then proposed suitable infrastructure arising out of this.

Given that the proposal is stated as being in the national interest, why were public consultation meetings not held in other major centres such as Gauteng?
The 2003 public participation process was found to have been flawed in the 2004 Appeal Review, therefore how can this be used as a basis for the 2008 process.
Many public concerns raised in 2003 have still not been addressed or overcome in the 2008 process.

Mitigations of negative impacts are not based in the realism of practical implementable plans and policy application given local conditions, but on assumptions that :-

a)Local authorities and regional government has the capacity and will to police and control any negative consequences that might arise as a consequences of the road e.g. ribbon development, pollution, unsustainable resources use. There is nothing in the recent history of the Eastern Cape to suggest that local and regional government has either the capacity or the skills to effectively control negative impacts that might arise from secondary impacts, and everything to suggest that the Eastern Cape authorities do not currently have the capacity to effectively police negative impacts and thus be effective agents for mitigation control.

b)Many mitigations are based on an assumption that the Pondoland Park is a given. To date anything remotely resembling a ‘ Pondoland Park’, or an area that is given high conservation status in terms of national resource allocation, remains nothing more than a far- sighted dream. Under these circumstances it is difficult to see how the concept of a ‘Pondoland Park’ can be named as a tool for ‘mitigations’ of negative impacts.

c)That a positive outcome for mitigations of negative impacts is overly optimistic, given real ‘on the ground’ conditions in the region.

Secondary and cumulative impacts have not been dealt with or addressed in any meaningful way. The EIA states that these are likely to have a significant impact on ecological systems, yet again most mitigations are based on unfounded assumptions that local authorities are adequately equipped to deal with the increased developmental pressures that the toll road might create. Mitigations for the control of secondary impacts are externalised onto local authorities, yet there are no concrete or detailed plans which indicate how local and regional authorities are going to be ‘empowered’ to deal with, or given the means, to deal with the consequences of controlling mitigating effects. Is this sense many mitigation give the appearance of being a ‘cop out’ by SANRAL. That is, the EIA acknowledges that the proposed route road will have undesirable negative impacts, but transfers the responsibility of dealing with these onto local authorities who are already hard pressed to deal with regional social and environmental problems. Under these circumstances, without a huge effort at local capacity building in terms of human resources and the development of local government capacity and skills, there is every chance that the increased pressures on the environment that the Toll road will bring will in the long term increase local levels of poverty and social inequality rather decrease these. The EIA give no indication on how the necessary capacity building will occur or unfold.

The EIA is full of contradictions and unfounded assumptions. Many of the so called ‘secondary benefits’, or multiplier effects, that the road is purported to support ( e.g extension of sugar and timber industries and mining) themselves will have high environmental impacts. If multiplier effects are dependent upon growth of secondary development these negate the statement that loss of biodiversity can be controlled or that secondary development can be controlled.
The cumulative impacts of multiplier effects have not been addressed in the EIA, but collectively the impacts of the development path that is suggested by these proposals is highly unsustainable at every level. This suggests the need for a holistic and strategic development plan, of which the route for the rd is a part. EIA statements that SANRAL should attempt to manage negative impacts do not constitute an adequate management plan.

Given the above, and given the lack of information about flora, fauna and the functioning of eco-systems in the region, the Precautionary Principle has not been upheld.

In light of the above, the EIA is partial to selective economic accounting and ‘value’ assessments that give a biased account of the desirability of the project, as well as bias toward the ‘SANRAL preferred route’ over other routes or options.
The issue of the exclusion of Toll fees from the socio-economic impact assessments has not been addressed which creates a bias in the socio-economic impacts.

Given the high environmental impacts of the proposal and the very ‘wishy washy’ suggested impact mitigations which lack any concrete detailed planning, the proposaI does not comply with NEMA regulations or Constitution Section 24 , and does not support the vision of the recently adopted National Framework for Sustainable Development as a guideline for the future development path of South Africa.

The EIA suggests that any broader macro-economic benefits that the road might bring would be dependent upon the formulation and implementation of a broader socio-economic development plan, and that without this it is unlikely that any of the regional benefits as a consequence of the road will be realized. This calls for the proposal to be considered within a broader socio –economic development plan, yet the proposal for the route has been developed in isolation of this. Given the lack of a broader socio –economic development plan needed to realize socio economic benefits of the road, in combination with the cumulative negative impacts that will arise as a consequence of the road, one has a likely situation where very few positive impacts might accrue, but a great many negative impacts might result. The net consequence is likely to be one of increasing social and environmental pressures and degradation, resulting in an increasing spiral of poverty and inequality. This begs the question why the road is being considered in isolation and again points to its founding motivation as being that of a business proposal rather than an infrastructure development serving the best national interests.

Increased traffic flow projections are based upon an assumption that increased traffic flow is going to maintain a steady and predictable rate. Oil peak theory and the current global economic downturn makes this a questionable assumption. Mitigations for climate change make it essential that dependency on carbon producing private motor vehicle use is reduced in favour of greater public transport facilities ( such as rail) and regional development systems that are not dependent upon the extensive long distance road haulage of goods.
Climate change, and various international obligations undertaken by South Africa in terms of the Millenium Development Goals, Agenda 21, and the Johannesburg hosted World Summit on Sustainable Development of 2002, require that South Africa makes every attempt to reverse biological and ecological degradation, and reduce the overall national environmental footprint.

The recently adopted National Framework on Sustainable Development recognizes that without these measures, achieving stated social and economic development goals will be increasingly unlikely, as the effects of environmental degradation will increasingly erode the resources available for socio-economic development. It is imperative that for a future path of sustainable development to be achieved, any infrastructure proposal that comes with a high environmental footprint or impact in biodiversity, such as the ‘Greenfields’ routing of the N2 through the PCE requires, absolute prudence. The mitigation measures outlines by the EIA , as well as the driving motivations as the various secondary proposals suggested as beneficiation, do not suggest that such prudence accompanies this proposal.

Homesteads in Xolobeni

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.

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).

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'.

 

  • 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.

 

 

 

Click on the pic to view the article.

 

 

 

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".
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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

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.

Objections
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

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.

Objections
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

COMMUNITIES LODGE FINAL OBJECTION

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.

Profitable

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.

NC 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.

On the latest booths, charging motorists leaving the new airport, the ANC said: "We remain steadfast that this tollgate was unnecessary. The King Shaka Airport has become the only airport in our country, if not the world, where people pay at a tollgate even before joining the main road." Logan Maistry, spokesman for Ndebele, said the department was committed to ensuring full participation and consultation from all sectors, and then referred other queries to Sanral. Sanral CEO Nazir Alli this morning said he could not respond to the criticism because he had not seen the ANC statement. The controversial N2 Wild Coast Highway, from the Gonubie Interchange, near East London, to Isipingo where another plaza may be built, was recently given the green light by the Department of Environmental Affairs, and objectors lodged their appeals last month. Residents may wait up to two months to hear if the department upholds its decision. Last month, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry lodged a challenge against the N2 Wild Coast toll road on behalf of more than 3 500 local companies. Chamber president, Clive Manci, said the appeal was formulated after previous efforts to halt the plan "fell on deaf ears". "We foresee a huge negative economic impact on businesses that will be directly affected by tolling this section of the N2," Manci said. Ted Holden, of the South Coast anti-toll road forum, said they were adopting a "wait and see" approach. He said that should the community not get the answer it was hoping for, the matter would end up in court. In 2008, eThekwini officials conducted a detailed analysis of the effects of the toll. The impacts included increased traffic congestion, accidents, pollution and noise, which would decrease property values and reduce residents' quality of life. An updated report, using data from the municipality's recent household travel survey, indicated that: # The area south of the proposed Isipingo Toll plaza has a population of about 350 000 households that would be affected by the road. # Total work trips in the morning peak at 57 000. # Of these trips almost 70 percent are by public transport and 30 percent private. eThekwini Mayor Obed Mlaba said: "We are concerned about such developments, especially when they will affect the poorest of the poor. For those people who support their families with the little they earn, to now have the additional toll charges, it is not right." He questioned how many tolls KZN was meant to have and also questioned how all the toll fees accrued by Sanral were used. Councillor Tex Collins, of the DA, said because it was obvious the toll would not be good for residents and the province, the matter had transcended political boundaries. Patrick Pillay, executive committee MF representative, said the toll had always been opposed, because it would create undue hardships on business and motorists. Thembi Nzuza, executive committee IFP representative, said it was a positive move that all parties agreed on this and reiterated a call for the toll proposal to be stopped.

http://www.thestar.co.za/?fSectionId=492&fArticleId=vn20100602145659883C...

interview with Bishop Geoff Davies about the N2 toll road.Bishop Geoff Davies - 6 May 2010 http://safcei.blogspot.com/2010/05/wild-coast-mining-and-toll-road.html 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.

I do emphasize that we in both SAFCEI and SWC believe that the development of roads in the Eastern Cape is important. Our concern is about the route of this proposed toll road and the fact that it is to be a toll road which will place an extremely heavy burden not only on the people of the Eastern Cape but also on the residents of Durban. As long ago as 2003, we asked SANRAL to upgrade the existing roads. This would not have required an extensive EIA and the work could have been completed by now. Their refusal has been extremely costly in terms of failed development and human lives lost as a result of the poor condition of the present roads. I continue to recall that one of the best priests of the Anglican Diocese of Umzimvubu, the Revd Madoda Hlwatika, lost his life on 6th January in 2004 on one of the very road we have asked to be upgraded. The greenfields route between Lusikisiki and Port Edward is not of concern only because of the threat it poses to the Pondoland Centre of Endemism but it will also isolate the present economic centres of the region, notably Mt Frere, Flagstaff and Bizana and it will have an impact on Kokstad. Certainly the residents of Umtata and Lusikisiki will benefit but the EIA does not include the matter of tolling. This is to be a separate application. We believe this is dishonest as residents of that area have not been informed that toll fees could be in excess of R75 to get to Durban. It is also absurd not to include the toll fees at the outset as the road cannot be built unless it is a toll road. This highlights the fact that the road is for the benefit of through traffic. The road will isolate communities and provide them with extremely limited access. We believe strongly that the people of the Eastern Cape deserve the development of a road system which does not punish them with excessively high toll fees. It would seem that it is the engineering companies that are driving this proposal. This application has emanated from the Department of Transport but is an unsolicited bid. We were told by the Department of Transport that it was not integral to their development plan. I think it would be fair to say that the people of Pondoland are divided on their opinion about this road. But there is unanimity in their desire for improved roads in the region. Those who will be directly affected by the toll road are extremely concerned not least because of the lack of consultation. We hope to send you further information shortly. With good wishes Bishop Geoff Davies. Kate Davies Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute (SAFCEI) katedatsafcei [dot] org [dot] za 083-468-1798 +27-(0)21-788-6591

2010/04/23
Taralyn Bro The Weekend Post

THE N2 Wild Coast Toll Road has moved one step closer to becoming a reality after the government this week gave its construction a tentative thumbs-up.

The issuing on Monday of a record of decision by the Department of Environmental Affairs authorising construction of the road is the latest in a long line of action – or inaction – around the mega-billion-rand project. Objectors now have less than a month to say why they believe construction should not go ahead. The authorisation has been granted as long as environmental concerns raised in the final environmental impact assessment report – released in December – are heeded.

More than 7800 submissions from the public were included in the report, which was started afresh in 2007 by CCA Environmental (Pty) Ltd after the original EIA was shelved in 2004.

If approved, the project will extend over roughly 560km between the N2 Gonubie interchange and the N2 Isipingo interchange (south of Durban).

Twenty-five new tolls will be built, mostly in KwaZulu-Natal.

The new route will be about 75km shorter than the existing N2 via Kokstad. Building cost was estimated at R6.4-billion in 2007.

PRESS RELEASE 12 -04 -2010 N2 TOLL ROAD - GOVERNMENT APPEARS OBLIVIOUS TO THE COMPLEXITY OF REAL ISSUES AT STAKE A recent parliamentary response to questions about the N2 Toll Road, posed to the Minister of Transport, shows the government has a deeply flawed understanding of the broader issues surrounding the N2 Toll road debacle. The Minister’s response suggests a government that is stuck in an inflexible time warp, basing its decisions on outdated, vastly flawed and unsustainable development projects that were conceived of in the early 90's, under scenarios vastly different from the situation that prevails today.

In reply to questions of whether the N2 was being planned as part of a broader spatial development plan, and how it would benefit the broader development objectives of the area, the Minister responded that the N2 was planned as part of the Wild Coast Spatial Development Initiative (WCSDI) intended to ‘unlock the development potential of the Eastern Cape’. The Minister mentions the establishment of the Pondoland Park as being a key component of the WCSDI, cites the road as being a key catalyst for the development of the area, and says benefits include positive economic impacts from tourism, retailers, service providers, jobs and investments from construction.

In terms of mitigations for negative impacts, the Minister agrees that the road will bring ‘disruption to the status quo’, but suggests that the preservation of the environment is a secondary consideration to the improved quality of life the road will supposedly bring. He also argues that it is only the 75Km (13%) of the Greenfields section that runs through the Pondoland Centre of Endemism (PCE) that is contentious, and that the narrow margins of the road reserve mean it is only 16% of the natural environment of the PCE that will be disturbed.

It sounds good and well, but a critical look shows these arguments to be misleading, highly contradictory, and totally oblivious to the realities at play in the region. The Ministers response implies that the Pondoland Park is central to the implementation of the WCSDI.

The concept of a Pondoland Park is also mentioned in the final EIR for the N2 Toll road as a key mitigation measure against acknowledged environmentally unsustainable impacts of the proposed N2 on the PCE, as a result of high ecological impacts. But the idea of a formally declared Pondoland Park, as it was presented to Wild Coast Communities by former Minister of the Environment and Tourism Minister van Schalkwyk, was rejected out of hand by local communities who reside on the land, who see it as nothing more than an attempt at a land grab of communal land by government authorities.

If the Pondoland Park is seen as key to carrying out the plans of the WCSDI, and of being central to mitigation measures against the high ecological impacts of the proposed N2, then how does government intend to proceed with a Park if this idea has been rejected by local communities, and consequently is no longer considered a viable option by the Department of Environment? If the Park is no longer an option, then how will the adverse impacts of the ‘Greenfields’ section of the N2 be mitigated? One cannot talk development in the Wild Coast area without also considering the spectre of the Xolobeni mining proposal.

If the government is seriously considering tourism as key to unlocking the development potential of the region, as the Minister suggests, then how can government be simultaneously entertaining the idea of mining in the very same area where they are talking about a Pondoland Park and increasing tourism?

- If ‘disturbance’ of the area is going to be confined solely to the road surface and road reserve, as the Minister suggests, then how is the road going to bring all the supposed secondary benefits and the ‘opening up for development’ of the region that the Minister sings lyrical about?

- If the road is intended to be a catalyst for secondary and ribbon development, then to say that ‘disturbance’ to the PCE will be limited to the 16% directly affected by the road surface and road reserve is a highly deceptive statement, to say the least.

The Minister misses the point completely when he dismisses the issues around the “Greenfields” section as being insignificant when viewed from the perspective of the road as a whole. This ‘Greenfields’ section is the only entirely new section of the road being proposed, with the rest of the road being an upgrade of existing road surface.

It is because of the social and environmental inappropriateness and unsustainability of the new ‘Greenfields’ section, and the extra taxes that will be imposed on the public in the form of tolls to pay for the road, that the proposed N2 has caused such a debacle and has been so opposed by the public.

The Minister presents his arguments as if the Toll road, and the supposed benefits it will bring, is the only option by which to bring ‘development’ to the region. The Minister overlooks the fact that there are many other options of ‘development’ that will bring benefits to the region without the high, and unsustainable, cost of human and environmental disruption that the proposed N2 will bring to the PCE.

These include upgrading existing local roads, and re-planning so that the proposed ‘Greenfields’ section of the N2 runs outside of the PCE. A road alone will not bring 'development'. Only investment in people brings 'development'. This requires an integrated approach that goes far beyond road building. It requires an investment in education, skills development, health improvement, democratic structures that meaningfully engage with local communities and public participation at a grass roots level, environmental conservation and restoration of degraded environments, and overcoming the gross mismanagement that is rife in local government and municipal structures and which has played a large role in the perpetuation of non-service delivery in the region.

Far from revealing that the N2 proposal is part of a well thought out Spatial Development Plan for the Wild Coast Region, the Ministers response highlights the deep and inconsistent fatal flaws inherent in the N2 proposal. Sustainable development depends upon conserving the structures of the environment upon which all life, including all human life, depends.

If the government is truly serious about addressing issues of poverty alleviation and inequality in the rural areas of Eastern Cape, while paying more than lip service to environmental considerations, then they need to go back to the drawing board and rethink their concepts of sustainability and development, instead of trying to perpetuate a flawed and unsustainable development model based on inappropriate models of development thinking that were fashionable in the 90s’. ENDS Val Payn On Behalf of Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) swcoastvalatgmail [dot] com cell - 083 4416961

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WRITTEN REPLY QUESTION NO 743 DATE REPLY SUBMITTED: 30 MARCH 2010 DATE OF PUBLICATION IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER: MONDAY, 15 MARCH 2010 (INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER: NO 7 – 2010) Mr G R Morgan (DA) asked the Minister of Transport:

(1) Whether the proposed development of the N2 Wild Coast Toll highway is being done in conjunction with a broader spatial planning process for the areas that will be impacted by the road; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;

(2) (a) how will the proposal for the new road benefit the broader development objectives of the area and (b) what are the negative effects of the proposed road in respect of the broader development objectives of the area?

NW870E REPLY: The Minister of Transport The proposed development of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Highway is being done with a broad spatial planning process. Government’s Wild Coast Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) was undertaken in the mid 1990’s, which focused on a developmental strategy that could address poverty, create jobs and uplift communities of the impoverished Wild Coast area. This included the toll road and the establishment of the Pondoland National Park. Since roads are the catalyst for development, the potential of the area will not be realized without a good road and the people of the area will be continued to be consigned to a life of poverty.

The documentation covering the various studies such as the economic impact studies and the environmental impact assessment are voluminous.

Detailed information is available on the following websites: www.nra.co.za and www.ccaenvironmental.co.za (chapter 15 and the specialist assessment report contained in Appendix 12 of the Final Environmental Impact Report).

(2) (a) The positive benefits, inter alia, of the project are providing access to an area of South Africa that has virtually none, thereby unlocking the developmental potential of the Eastern Cape and the Pondoland area, in particular. Furthermore, the provision of this road will strengthen the national road network where it has been required for decades.

Listed below are some of the benefits of the project: Benefit-cost analysis shows a ratio as high as 2,44. The gross once-off investment in the area during construction - R4 773 million. Income from new business activity (after construction) - R1 666 million. Total investment in the area (during and after construction) - R6 439 million. The annual increase in income in the service area of the proposed road during and after construction will be as follows:

  • Wages and salaries to local population R 228,8 million
  • Income increase to local industry R 171,6 million
  • Retailers R 114,4 million Service providers R 57,2 million
  • Number of permanent jobs 15 880
  • Multiplier effect in zone of influence: 4 – 6. Tourism potential in the area:
  • Expected tourists per annum - 1 400 000
  • Projected new room developments - 784
  • Positive economic impact as a result of increased tourism volumes It is acknowledged that any kind of development causes disruption to the status quo, be it to the natural surroundings (environmental) or to human life. The disruption caused should, however, be considered in its proper context.
  • The challenge is to find a balance between the improvement of the quality of life of human beings and the preservation of the environment. This challenge can be met through the application of mitigation measures. The reports mentioned earlier do suggest such mitigation measures that can be further refined at the implementation stage of the project.
  • It has been shown that the potential negative impact of the project is on the biodiversity of Pondoland – Ugu Sandstone Coastal Sourveld vegetation and in the Pondoland Centre of Endemism. However, this must be seen in the context of the size of the project.
  • The road traverses some 560 km between the Provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
  • The entire road is in an existing road reserve area of which approximately 75 km is a greenfield site. The greenfield site is between Ndwalane and Mtanwena River in the Pondoland Centre of Endemism. This is approximately 13% of the entire length of the road.
  • The road reserve here will be 80 m wide; the road prism will generally vary between 20 and 50 m and the surfaced width will be 12,5 m. Thus, an area approximately 94 ha out of a total area of 600 ha (greenfield site) will be disturbed – i.e. approximately 16% - to the extent that the vegetation will be uprooted.
  • This is a “small” price to pay for the upliftment of the people living in an underdeveloped part of South Africa.

2009/06/08

GOVERNMENT has approved plans for the construction of a toll route through the Wild Coast in the face of fierce opposition from environmentalists and the royal house of AmaMpondo.

The project, initially intended to take off some 10 years ago, has been stalled by objections from Pondoland communities whose homes the road will cut through, and from environmentalists who fear the ecological impact.

Environmentalists are also concerned a portion of the road between Lusikisiki and Port Edward will bisect the Pondoland Centre of Endemism (PCE) sections of the proposed Wild Coast/Pondoland National Park.

The approval of the project, by Minister for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka, was justified by the economic spin-offs in an area of severe poverty and disease.

Departmental spokesperson Vuyelwa Vika said the toll road, which will start from Buffalo City and go through Transkei to Isipingo south of Durban, had strong business appeal, and constant delays were detrimental only to communities along the proposed route.

“After visiting the area and witnessing for himself the poverty and disease that exists in that area, the minister felt that the people had suffered great neglect since there has been no significant development in the past 15 years,” she said.

Vika said people could not continue living in hope after repeated promises of development.

“There will be a consultation process, to be complete within the next three months, during which stakeholders, including communities, environmentalists and everyone who has ever raised issues about the development, will be consulted,” she said .

She added that all legal actions brought against government for the project also would be sorted out by then.

During construction the road is expected to generate about 6800 direct and up to 21300 indirect jobs, with 900 of them permanent.

About 18000 indirect jobs are expected to exist after the road was built.

Kings in the area have voiced their unhappiness over the construction , calling it an invasion of natural land lush with natural flora, fauna and the site of the graves of their forefathers.

They had also vigorously resisted the mining of a 23km strip of land in Xolobeni, with threats to go to court to stop it with a human rights body joining in the fray.

The road was regarded as paving the way for the mining project.

Attempts to get their comment on the pending construction were unfruitful yesterday.

“By the end of the year a decision on the mining project would have been reached, so that if it does not continue alternative developmental projects must be put in place,” Vika said.

Yesterday the Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) initiative vigorously opposed to the construction of the road, said the three months consultation process was not only impractical but a recipe for disaster.

Land rights activist and SWC community co-ordinator Pasika Nontshiza said: “This is ridiculous, they would not have completed consultation for a project which will erode 85km of endemic species, from where people get their plants and herbs.”

He said the community they claimed to be concerned about had received no responses to their concerns on the future of the existing projects, from which they derived an income.

“They are not against development, but they do not know what they gain from this,” he said.

He added that by announcing his decision through the media, the minister was violating the “code of consultation”, and repeating mistakes that had led to the opposition of the project.

He said that the promise of jobs was a tool used by the authorities to bolster their position.

“We have jobs that are in harmony with nature – why can’t they be boosted?”

The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), under whom the project falls, yesterday said safeguarding and protecting endemic species formed part of their plan, as did alleviating poverty and empowering communities.

“The process has taken too long, but we had to follow all legal processes,” Sanral CEO Nazir Ali said.

He said the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which they had been asked to re-do, was almost ready, they were just processing public and community input.

“In the meantime poverty levels have deepened,” he added.

Agreeing that the project was lucrative, and would provide much needed jobs, the Democratic Alliance’s national transport spokesperson, Stuart Farrow, said it should not be undertaken at the expense of the people and environment.

“Consultation with the communities should be extensive … and the EIA should be taken into consideration to ensure that no vegetation is wiped out,” he said.

He added that although the project meant a new and improved road, a single trip could cost drivers R250 from East London to Durban, although regular travellers could apply for an exemption.

The road would also bypass a number of small towns, including Bizana, Flagstaff and Kokstad.

“Will they survive the economic impact of this or will they die?” Farrow asked. - By NTANDO MAKHUBU

http://www.dispatch.co.za/article.aspx?id=321370

January 29, 2009 press statement by SWC. For immediate release.

Flood of Objections to Wild Coast Toll Road

An unprecedented flood of thousands of objections has poured in to the consultants tasked with writing the final Report on the Wild Coast Toll Road EIA, despite holiday season timing for public comment.

The submissions have come from individuals, communities, businesses,
environmental organisations and civil society groups, while in Durban, where road users are protesting extra toll booths, local government have joined the chorus.

Many of the comments have described the EIAR as ‘fatally flawed” in many ways, but particularly in its lack of compliance with required legal standards and adherence to public participation norms.

It also

  • misleadingly characterises the project as a regional social development initiative
  • misleadingly assesses the benefits of secondary development
  • fails to assess socio-economic impacts
  • fails to assess the cumulative effects of mining and the toll road\
  • demonstrates inadequate consultation with IAPs.

    Specialist studies into relocation, land claims and sacred sites also fall short.

    Lylie Musgrave
    Kibao Communications
    On behalf of Sustaining the Wild Coast
    tel: 27 31 2613406
    fax 27 31 2616232
    mobile: 072 2970974
    email: kibao@iafrica.com
    Full transcripts of comments are available on www.swc.org.za

  • Open letter to the Press (Author unknown)

    Dear Editor

    The N2 ‘Wild Coast’ Toll Rd EIA appears to have resurrected a widespread and extremely short-sighted myth which is common in economic circles. This myth is that ecological losses are justified if they result in economic gains.
    The N2 Toll Road EIA points out that the proposed highway will result in substantial damage to the environment, particularly the extension through the ‘Greenfields’ section which traverses the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism. It defends these negative environmental impacts by claiming that economic benefits will outweigh ecological losses. This myth has been widely perpetuated by a number of local media reports concerning the N2 project.

    It is beyond belief how such an outdated notion continues to be perpetuated in the twenty first century, when one considers the perilous state of the planet and incontrovertible evidence to the contrary by significant numbers of internationally accepted studies that show that environmental degradation invariably leads to decreasing social well-being and is economically costly.
    In 1997 the United Nations, in its Human Development Report, said that poverty relief measures went hand in hand with reversing ‘environmental degradation’, securing ‘sustainable livelihoods’, improving employment prospects and creating ‘an enabling environment for small scale agriculture, microenterprises and the informal sector’.

    In 2002, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development here in South Africa, Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary General, stated ‘…a path to prosperity that ravages the environment and leaves a majority of humankind behind in squalor will soon prove to be a dead-end road for everyone.”

    The Millennium Assessment of 2005 showed that ‘the degradation of ecosystem services represents loss of a capital asset’ and furthermore that ‘loss of eco-systems services are seldom, if ever, brought into the balance sheet of GDP. When loss through unsustainable use is factored into GDP, many of the developing countries that show positive GDP growth are actually experiencing net loss of capital, with dire consequences for future growth.’

    The UNEP 4th Global Environmental Outlook report of 2007 states, ‘development strategies often ignore the need to maintain the very ecosystem services on which long-term development goals depend…’. Both the UNDP and GEO4 state that poverty relief in many instances is interdependent upon reversing environmental degradation and nurturing sustainable livelihoods.
    The 2007 South African National Framework on Sustainable Development argued for recognition of ‘non-negotiable ecological thresholds’ (NFSD, DEAT, 2007:21) that need to be reserved in order to maintain natural capital stocks over time. This ‘integrated approach’ emphasizes that the sustainable functioning of social and economic structures are dependent upon maintaining and working within the capacity of the environment to maintain and regenerate itself.

    And most recently, WWF International’s 2008 Living Planet report states…..’Devastating though the financial credit crunch has been, it's nothing as compared to the ecological recession that we are facing…. The more than $2 trillion lost on stocks and shares is dwarfed by the up to $4.5 trillion worth of natural resources destroyed forever each year.’

    Given our considerable and irrefutable scientific proof of the current parlous state of our planet it is difficult to know how the myth that supposed economic gains can supplement for lost ecosystem functioning keep being perpetuated. Our own South African Environmental Outlook report, published in 2007 by the DEAT, makes it abundantly clear that South Africa cannot be at all complacent when it comes to the state of our environment, if we are to have any hope of pursuing a sustainable path.

    Here are perhaps a few reasons that this myth is still so widespread:
    First, it serves the short term interests of business and political leaders who stand to gain short term private profits or ‘kudos’ from maintaining this illusion.
    Second, it comes about because of a reductionist approach to development which divides social, economic and ecological functions into separate, unrelated ‘boxes’, instead of seeing that these are all completely inter-dependent with each other.
    Third, it comes out of a widely-held belief that humans and human society are somehow ‘separate’ from nature and from natural systems, with no understanding that whatever happens to natural systems will ultimately affect what happens to humans.

    Belief in this myth is leading us to the brink of catastrophic ecological collapse which threatens the foundations of modern civilization. Climate change, the collapse of vast sea fisheries, doubling of reactive nitrogen and tripling of phosphorous since 1960, mass conversion of biomes - primarily to agriculture, a 6th great extinction of species due to habitat loss, and declining genetic diversity are all symptoms of a belief in this myth. And now it is being used as justification to put the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism at risk by ill-conceived corporate driven infrastructure proposals in the form of the N2 Toll road ‘Wild Coast’ extension and the mining venture.

    Surely it is time to debunk this myth once and for all for the unmitigated rubbish that it is, and advance development proposals that improve the capacity of our natural systems to deliver ‘natural capital’ in support of human society, and thus enhance benefits to society as a whole, rather than insisting on development strategies that degrade our life-supporting systems?

    http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dgkvztcd_95f7k2zxhj

    From the "who do they think they're fooling" department:

    Daily Dispatch 2008/11/18
    By ANDREW STONE
    (http://www.dispatch.co.za/article.aspx?id=270854)

    THE economic spin-offs of a proposed N2 toll road through the ecologically sensitive Wild Coast outweighed potential damage to the environment and loss of wildlife diversity.

    This is according to a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) r eleased last week for public comment.

    The report, with a 69-page executive summary, was undertaken for the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).

    The release is the latest step in the proposed construction of the motorway from Buffalo City through Transkei to Isipingo south of Durban, cutting out 85km of the existing N2 route. It will be interspersed with seven main toll plazas.

    But the proposed motorway has environmentalists in a froth, who said together with planned mining of sensitive coastal dunes in the same area it could have a “disastrous” impact.

    The report itself also stated that “the proposed new road would result in residual impacts of high significance in terms of loss of habitat (and) fragmentation of habitat”, and that the road would be ecologically sustainable if “secondary impacts could be controlled and conservation measures put in place”.

    It added: “Overall, it is considered that the potential social benefits of the proposed project, as assessed along the entire route, and if enhanced as recommended, would outweigh the potential negative impact. ”

    But John Clarke of Sustaining the Wild Coast initiative raised concerns over current capacity to manage the road and environment effectively.

    “Based on my experience our current environmental governance systems are simply not meeting the present challenges, let alone being ready to take on the additional challenges that a massive motorway will bring,” he argued.

    Environmentalists are also concerned that a portion of the road between Lusikisiki and Port Edward would bisect the Pondoland Centre of Endemism (PCE) and pass through sections of the proposed Wild Coast/Pondoland National Park.

    The PCE has recently been recognised as one of 235 botanical global hotspots of plant diversity.

    Combined with proposed mining in the area, the impact could be severe, Clarke said.

    “The report says it is likely that other proposed projects in the area would further exacerbate the loss of habitat,” Clarke said.

    “Reading the EIA for the mining proposal together with the EIA for the N2 Wild Coast toll road makes it quite obvious that the cumulative impact of both projects would be disastrous.”

    The report said, however, that the economic spin-offs for the Eastern Cape could be substantial.

    During construction phase, some 6800 direct and up to 21300 indirect jobs were expected to be created, with 900 permanent jobs and some 18000 indirect jobs created after the road was built.

    It also found that once the road was operational, economic income would be improved and sectors such as agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, construction and trade and tourism would enjoy increased income.

    “The estimated present (2007) value of this additional income is approximately R15829 million.”

    It would also making driving through the former Transkei – notorious for the high number of accidents as a result of stock on the road – a lot safer, the report said.

    “The probable tolls listed in the report means that in this highly impoverished area, a road which is meant to benefit the local people, is going to cost (a driver) at least R70 between Ntafufu and Port Edward,” said Bishop Geoff Davies.

    “This road will further isolate the present commercial centres of Bizana, Flagstaff and Kokstad and will hardly benefit people in that region,” said Davies, who heads the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute.

    The full EIA can be viewed in various towns including the East London central library and Mthatha public library. There are also a number of public open days with EIA teams and Sanral representatives, starting from Monday. For the full study see www.ccaenvironmental.co.za.

    Posted on November 10th, 2008 (http://www.swc.org.za/wild-coast-toll-road-eia-public-participation-flaw...)

    Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) calls upon the government of South Africa to reject out of hand the latest attempt to gain support for the ill-conceived Wild Coast Toll Road.

    Over three and a half years ago the previous EIA was turned down by the Minister of Environment Affairs because of “inappropriate links” between environmental consultants Bohlweki and the consortium of construction companies proposing the unsolicited bid for a high speed link between Durban and East London.

    The EIA was met with a storm of protest from varied groupings, including KZN provincial government and the Ethkwini Municipality, taxi association, residents and environmental groups. Many felt that the road’s route pointed to the underlying rationale behind the road was to facilitate the transport of the products of the controversial Pondoland dune mining proposal by an Australian junior mining company.

    This week, advertisements appeared calling for public comment on a new EIA. “Although we cannot yet comment on the Report as it is due to be published on November 9, we do strongly protest the manner in which the crucial Public Participation Process is being handled.”, said a SWC statement..

    “Firstly, Interested and Affected Parties have not been informed, and the timing period for objections is just not acceptable, with the closing date for objections – January 9 next year – falling within the Christmas holiday period. This is not the first time such a devious tactic designed to stifle public comment has been employed”.

    SWC is very much in favour of developing infrastructure on the Wild Coast, but this must be done in ways that benefit both local communities and their rich and varied heritage, both cultural and ecological.

    Further comment will follow once those most affected have had a chance to study the report.

    The new scoping report and EIA for the N2 ‘ Wild Coast’ Toll road has been completed and is available for download from the websites www.nra.co.za or www.ccaenvironmental.co.za or by contacting Theo Hansford. Tel 011 447 6037 Email theoh@nma.org.za

    The Draft EIR will be made available for an eight-week comment period from Monday 10 November 2008 to Friday 9 January 2009 in order to provide I&APs an opportunity to comment on any aspect of the EIA to date.

    Public open days to present the contents of the report will be held by the consultants, in KZN and Wild Coast region, at the following venues :- (IAPs are invited between any of the following times)...

    Mon 17 Nov . 10 am - 19h 30 Scottburgh Town Hall
    Tues 18 Nov 10 am - 19h30 Amanzimtoti Civic Centre
    Thurs 11 Dec 10 am - 19.30 Port Shepstone Town Hall

    Wed 19 Nov. Libode Town Hall - 10 am - 17.00 hrs
    Thurs 20 Nov Mthatha Town Hall 10.am - 19.30
    Frid 21 Nov. Qunu Nelson Mandela Museum 10 am-17.00
    Mon 1 Dec. Lusikisiki Teachers Training College 10 am -17.00
    Tues 2 Dec Mahaha Junior secondary school 10am - 17.00 hrs
    Wed 3 Dec Baleni Clinic 10 am -17.00hrs
    Monday 8 Dec Wild Coast Casino .10am- 19.30 hrs
    Tues 9 Dec. Holy Cross Community hall 10.00 - 17.00hrs
    Wed 10 Dec Taleni Community Hall.

    Comments must reach the offices of NMA by no later than Friday 9 January 2009 to be considered in compilation of the Final EIR. Comments may be submitted at the Public Open Days or may be forwarded via e-mail, facsimile or letter to the contact details given below.

    NMA EFFECTIVE SOCIAL STRATEGISTS
    ATTENTION: THEO HANSFORD
    PO BOX 32097
    BRAAMFONTEIN, 2017
    FAX: 086 601 0381
    E-MAIL: theoh@nma.org.za