Spotlight on the N2 Wild Coast toll road

PAY POINT: KwaZulu-Natal has slated tollgates. Pic: Jackie Clausen. 09/04/2009. © Sunday Times.
PAY POINT: KwaZulu-Natal has slated tollgates. Pic: Jackie Clausen. 09/04/2009. © Sunday Times.

THE public will be given an opportunity to express their views about the controversial N2 tollgate and all other tollgates in the province at a series of public meetings.

"The government has always been against the N2 Wild Coast toll highway and other tollgates because these will derail socioeconomic initiatives," Premier Zweli Mkhize said.

"Transport is crucial to economic growth and trade. Virtually no production can take place if people do not have free movement as a result of increased transport costs."

The cabinet's economic cluster has been mandated to draw up a plan for a series of meetings with stakeholders across the province to discuss the tollgates.

The dates and venues for the meeting will be announced shortly.

"KwaZulu-Natal was adversely affected and recorded many job losses in many sectors, with manufacturing being the hardest hit," Mkhize said.

"By the first quarter of 2009 about 117000 jobs had been lost in this sector. Fuel and food prices rose to record levels, causing inflation to accelerate rapidly, reaching a high of 13,7percent annual rate, though it dropped later.

"The tollgate, surely, will cause more hardship and disadvantage many families with those who are involved in informal trading in Isipingo and in the city centre set to be denied the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the mainstream economy."

The province had invested R3,4billion on projects that would not only cater for the influx of international visitors, but would also serve to promote local economic growth for 2010.

The cabinet's move comes amid huge upheaval in the province since the South African National Roads Agency proposed an N2 Wild Coast toll project, which includes two new main-line toll plazas at Isipingo and Park Rynie and other new ramp plazas on the South Coast.