A new road between Durban in KwaZulu-Natal and East London in Eastern Cape will decrease the travelling distance between the two cities by 85km and create thousands of work opportunities in the two provinces.
Construction of the N2 highway could possibly start this year as a result of government’s decision that the road will not get any new toll gates.
Construction of the road has been delayed since 2002 because government wanted to add new toll gates in KwaZulu-Natal, specifically between Durban and Amanzimtoti, to pay for construction in Eastern Cape. The added toll would have amounted to up to R114 a vehicle going one way.
Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele this week confirmed that the project was now a priority. He also confirmed the road would not have any additional toll gates.
“The building of the highway is critical to the economic development of both provinces. The new route will have a
positive impact on transport costs and, seeing as it will lead to significant time savings, will also have a large impact on the provinces’ carbon footprints,” he said.
Asked where the money to build the new road would come from he referred to the Treasury.
“We are in talks with them (the Treasury) and they are aware of the need for new roads and projects such as this,” he said.
“The new road would be built under the auspices of the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) and would have to be built next to large parts of the ecologically sensitive Wild Coast.”
Ndebele said all environmental impact issues around construction in the area would be considered and taken into account.
Priya Pillay, spokesperson for Sanral, said construction was presently being delayed due to appeals against it.
Appeals were lodged with the Department of Environmental Affairs in September 2010.
“Sanral is still waiting for the final decision,” said Pillay.
Ndebele said he was not too concerned about delays to construction due to environmental issues. He said the final feasibility studies were being completed and after this the construction process could continue.
He stressed that the construction would bring many benefits to both provinces.
“Large amounts of material such as bitumen will have to be bought in the provinces and the construction itself will provide thousands of job opportunities. It will improve economic conditions in both provinces,” Ndebele said.