Xolobeni incensed over toll road meeting snub

2017-03-26 06:00
Skhumbuzo Macozoma and Danny Jordaan. Picture: Brendan Croft/File.

Skhumbuzo Macozoma and Danny Jordaan. Picture: Brendan Croft/File.

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The Xolobeni community has described Sanral chief executive officer (CEO) Skhumbuzo Macozoma’s failure to honour an invitation to meet on Thursday as insensitive and rude.

The Xolobeni community has described South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) chief executive officer (CEO) Skhumbuzo Macozoma’s failure to honour an invitation to meet on Thursday as insensitive and rude. They had expected to meet with him at the Umgungundlovu Great Place in Xolobeni to discuss the effect of the N2 Wild Coast toll road on their land.

This comes after Sanral consultants were chased out of Xolobeni last Sunday amid tensions caused by the construction of the road.

The villages of Mdatya and Sigidi, which fall under the Amadiba Administrative Area in Mbizana, will be directly affected by the construction of the road, and will force families to leave their land and be relocated.

The community wanted to share their frustration with Macozoma by highlighting Sanral’s failure to properly consult affected communities. At least 40 homesteads are going to be moved, including graves, from their ancestral land.

They believe the government is actually building the road to facilitate the mining of titanium in Xolobeni, which they opposed. They allege that the previous CEO, Nazir Alli, shunned similar invitations extended by the Amadiba Crisis Committee, which has led the fight against titanium mining in Xolobeni, successfully forcing the suspension of mining plans in the area.

Sinegugu Zukulu, the leader of the Amadiba Crisis Committee in Amadiba, which includes Xolobeni, accused Sanral of being dishonest in handling their concerns. He said he hand-delivered a letter inviting Macozoma to the Umgungundlovu Great Place and was given the impression that he would honour the invitation. But he did not pitch.

Instead, Sanral sent consultants whose only concern – Xolobeni community members allege – was the location of steel bars they had installed to mark the areas where the toll road would be built.

Zukulu said: “We wanted to speak to the CEO and give him the benefit of [the] doubt. It’s a pity he did not show up. This is a lost opportunity.”

Amadiba Crisis Committee spokesperson Nonhle Mbuthuma confirmed that villagers chased Sanral consultants out of Mdatya and Sigidi villages last weekend.

She said the consultants were told to come back with Macozoma on Thursday.

Craig McLachlan, Sanral’s N2 toll road project manager, said Macozoma was still willing to meet with the community.

“The initial date proposed was, unfortunately, not suitable for all parties and a new date in the near future is being arranged,” he said.

McLachlan disputed claims that Sanral had not properly consulted communities, and said it had conducted “extensive community consultative sessions” since 2008 as part of the environmental impact assessment.

Mbuthuma said Sanral should stop all activities in their community until the meeting was held.

“If you don’t respect this, we will tie up your staff and keep them here with us until their father [Macozoma] comes to fetch them,” Mbuthuma said.

Read more on:    sanral

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