TO ALL CONCERNED ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE WILD COAST
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.
Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute (SAFCEI)