- The N2 Wild Coast Road project will generate 8 000 full-time jobs and as much as 28 000 indirect jobs, during construction, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
- Ongoing maintenance work will result in another 900 direct, full-time jobs and around 19 000 indirect jobs.
- The president implored communities to support the project amid reports some are opposed to it.
The development of
the N2 Wild Coast Road project by the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) could
create thousands of jobs, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The president was speaking at an event at the Msikaba Bridge site in the Eastern Cape on Thursday, which is part of the project.
The N2 Wild Coast Road Project connects four provinces - the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
The Msikaba Bridge is one of two mega bridges being constructed. The other, Mtentu, is 64km from it.
Once Mtentu was completed, it would be one of the highest bridges in Africa and among the longest in the world, Sanral said in a statement.
Msikaba's construction is expected to be completed in 2023.
The project would not only spur economic activity, but community development, service delivery and job creation, Ramaphosa said.
"Work on the N2 Wild Coast project will lead to the creation of 8 000 direct full-time jobs and between 21 000 and 28 000 indirect jobs during the construction phase."
This is effectively a wage bill of R750 billion.
Both skilled and semi-skilled people have already been employed on the project, he added.
"Once the road is completed, ongoing maintenance work is anticipated to create another 900 direct, full-time jobs and around 19 000 indirect jobs," Ramaphosa said.
South Africa's official unemployment rate stands at 34.4%, or about 7.8 million jobless people.
Furthermore, approximately R4 billion will be spent on enterprises during its construction, ensuring the investment on the project is ploughed back to communities. So far, R120 million has gone to local small, medium and micro enterprises.
He added the highway would address mobility challenges for people in rural communities in the Eastern Cape, reduce travelling distances and time, would be safer and would benefit tourism, both inside and outside the province.
It will also allow the transportation of goods and services to the entire southern African region.
But the project has not been welcomed by all communities.
GroundUp recently reported some residents were concerned the road would disturb their way of life, essentially splitting the community in half and pollute the environment.
Ramaphosa said there was a N2 Wild Coast Region Biodiversity Offset Programme, which is part of the project, which sought to expand two nature reserves - Silaka and Mkhambathi.
The project also includes the creation of new protected areas in the Pondoland Centre of Floral Endemism of approximately 20 000 hectares.
He added the project had been challenged.
For example, construction at the Mtentu Bridge site was halted because communities raised concerns that they were not properly included in the development.
The story is different at Msikaba, where 62% of the total workforce at the site are locals.
"It is my hope that Sanral continues with this proactive engagement with communities around the Mtentu project development," Ramaphosa said.
"Communities have a rightful expectation that when their areas are the sites of large-scale economic projects, whether it is road construction or mining, that they should benefit from them."
He, however, implored communities to co-operate with the government when such projects were planned and implemented.
"Using intimidation or violence to secure a share of benefits from the project is counter-productive, and it has far-reaching impacts. When there are stoppages it doesn't just cost the contractors, it costs the entire country."
Ramaphosa said communities would benefit from the project - women and youth were among those who have been employed through the project.
The project supported entrepreneurs and other small businesses, he added.
The president called on communities to support it.
"It will only succeed if we all work together as government, communities and Sanral."