Miners still trying for Wild Coast highway

2008-11-09 00:00

LET it not be said that the proponents of the Wild Coast Toll Road and their partners in evil, the Australian mining company and their local BEE cohorts who want to mine the dunes for heavy metals, give up easily.

Advertisements last week called for public comment on a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that, three-and-a-half years ago, 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.

At the time, the EIA was met by a storm of protest from varied groupings, including the KZN provincial government and the Ethekwini Municipality, taxi associations, residents and environmental groups.

It was pointed out that the road’s route suggested that the reason was to facilitate the transport of products from the controversial Pondoland dune mining proposal.

The problem with the new EIA is that interested and affected parties have not been informed, and that the closing date for objections, January 9 next year, falls in the Christmas holiday period.

The conservation coalition, Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC), has come out strongly against what it terms, “a devious tactic designed to stifle public comment” and urged the government to reject out of hand the latest attempt to gain support for the ill-conceived toll road.

The resuscitation of the EIA follows hot on the heels of an admission by national Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica that the consultation process into the planned multi-billion rand dune mining project was “flawed”. Her comments at the time followed a heated meeting at Xolobeni where AmaMpondo’s King Mpondomini Sigcau demanded that the mining licence be withdrawn and that a proper investigation into the project be conducted.

The mutually beneficial linkage of the proposed toll road and the dune mining hints at more than a suggestion of collusion.

We’re pretty certain that the king’s sentiments, expressed in the context of the Xolobeni project, hold equally true for the toll road, when he said that only the politicians would benefit.

Captivating experience

Talk of the town is the Old Prison Café (OPC), the latest addition to the Project Gateway repertoire. A courageous move under the present circumstances, the people behind OPC are determined to bring an altogether different experience to the table.

Securely located in the heart of the Old Prison in Pine Street, the café boasts eclectic décor that will delight and provoke some patrons.

A sense of perspective is advised, especially as the aim is to acknowledge a particularly unsavoury slice of South African history. If greater empathy is desired, sit outside and gaze at the quadrangle where prisoners of yore hunched in rows, waiting to be fed.

Present circumstances are more genteel though, infinitely enhanced by an innovative menu and quality fare, be it a good coffee, tasty snack or wholesome meal.

A delightful jumble of shackles and chains, a well-worn Oregon pine ladder, green retro walls and pink roses on the tables help to define a welcoming ambience.

To cap it all, a selection of locally made high-end arts and crafts on display invites a leisurely browse, not to mention a destination out-of-town visitors would enjoy.

For more information and bookings, contact 033 845 0400 or e-mail zandla@projectgateway.co.za

Quizzing Quincy’s

QUIZ night at Quincy’s is legendary, judging by the scrum of aficionados who love nothing better than to exhibit their cerebral prowess on Monday evenings.

Much of the success of these fun-filled evenings is due to the hard graft of Quincy’s owner and restaurateur Mark Brokensha, who not only whips up a questionnaire extraordinaire, but also delivers an impressive quiz master performance.

His redoubtable quiz skills are winning him recognition far and wide, and soon he will be winging his way to Cape Town to show them how it’s done.

Treat royale

KEEN to score double noddy points with the woman in your life? Then consider a “mum and daughter” special at Bianca’s Health and Beauty Spa at Shongweni that, at the price, represents an astute investment in marital relations.

The half-day session includes a host of treatments and some healthy sustenance. For more information, contact 083 790 3119 or e-mail info@biancaroberts.co.za.

Sales brake

NEW vehicle sales fell to their lowest this year, with only 41 336 new vehicles sold during October, a 7,3% drop over September 2008, and a mammoth 31% over the same period last year.

Passenger car sales accounted for 23 077 units during October, down 33,4% on October 2007.

Even the robust Light Commercial Vehicle market fell by 23,4% over the same period last year with 12 384 registrations.

Top five car sellers were VW Polo (1 680), Toyota Corolla (1 617), Toyota Yaris T3 (1 398), VW CitiGolf (1 222) and Toyota Fortuner (923).

Cycle promise

THE success of the Engen Dynamic Cycle road races have paved the way for their promised development programme.

Driven locally by Burg Wheelers, the initiative is a big opportunity for children who will soon get free kit and bikes.

The organisers hope these cyclists will ride in next year’s Engen race.

So, anybody knowing of a worthy school, college or orphanage that has potential development riders, please contact Gill Bure at 082 772 9310 or e-mail: bure@netactive.co.za.

Entrepreneurial support

The Business Support Centre (BSC) is hosting a seminar, “What is an entrepreneur?”, to co-incide with Global Entrepreneur Week on November 20 at Sinodale Centre.

The idea is for the private sector, local government and representatives of the Fifa World Cup to outline business opportunities to the SMME (small, medium and micro enterprise) sector in the greater Pietermaritzburg area.

BSi Steel chairman William Battershill will be among the speakers who will address an expected 100 entrepreneurs.

For more information, contact the BSC at 033 342 2564 or e-mail gaskin@telkomsa.net

Last word

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve obviously never been to bed with a mosquito.” — Michelle Walker.

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