THE South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) welcomes the support given to the N2 Wild Coast project by Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle during his 2017 State of the Province Address.
The Premier’s endorsement is another green light for the road which is at the core of one of the 18 strategic integrated projects designed to rejuvenate South Africa’s infrastructure landscape, says Vusi Mona, the spokesperson of the South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL).
“SANRAL welcomes the province’s backing for this project that also enjoys overwhelming support from local communities. Its mention in the State of the Province Address suggests it is regarded as strategic in the province’s development agenda,” says Mona.
Construction is expected to commence within the next six months and the project is planned to be completed by 2021. The upgrading of the N2 Wild Coast Road will help to unlock the potential of the Eastern Cape economy and contribute significantly to job-creating sectors such as eco-tourism, agro-processing and light manufacturing.
Mona says the upgraded road that stretches from East London to the KwaZulu-Natal border will enable the Eastern Cape to reach its economic development targets. The 410km upgrade will save road users up to three hours of driving time between East London and Durban.
“A world-class freeway is critical to the successful implementation of the Provincial Development Strategy. There is a strong emphasis on tourism, agriculture and the oceans economy. These sectors require a reliable road network to attract new investment,” he says.
Impoverished communities along the Pondoland Coast will benefit through increased access to local towns, faster travel times and lower transportation costs. A survey conducted by the HSRC in 205 showed 99% support for the project among the local population.
Mona says planning for the road was accompanied by a comprehensive environmental impact assessment and conservationists have been assigned to protect the biological diversity and natural heritage of the Wild Coast.
The upgraded road will include the construction of two of the largest bridges in Africa, across the Msikaba River and the Mtentu River just outside Xolobeni.
The project will create some 6 800 direct jobs and close to 28 000 indirect jobs during the construction phase. Black-owned and women-owned business will benefit from the project and have the opportunity to gain further experience by working with the primary contractors.
“This is catalytic development for the Eastern Cape and adds to the R14 billion value of infrastructure and maintenance projects already undertaken by SANRAL in the province,” says Mona.