Local environment preserved in R240 million Hemel en Aarde Road upgrade
Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
This R240 million project is a culmination of 55 months of work by a dedicated professional team. The project itself was born of several requests from the local farming community for an upgrade to the road and the need to address the very serious safety concerns brought about by sub-standard vertical and horizontal alignments of the gravel road.
Adverse conditions like dust in the dry summer months and slippery surfaces in the wet winter months had a negative impact on the users of this road. This new road will bring with it shorter and safer driving conditions for the many that rely on this road for their various activities.
The project consisted of the construction of a new and wider surfaced road to replace the old gravel road that existed before. The road will also add greatly to the scenic appeal of the Hemel en Aarde valley that so many tourists have come to love. This picturesque area is well known for its rolling hills and beautiful vineyards, and has proven very popular amongst visitors in the past. This road will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the economy of this region, particularly through the important role that it plays in boosting tourism in the area.
With benefits imminent for the community in the near future, there were also benefits provided during the project, with many of our empowerment targets met and surpassed. Of the total contract value of R240 million, R17.5 million (7%) was dedicated to local labour, with an additional R31.5 million (13%) earmarked for HDI enterprises. Ensuring benefit to the local community is a defining characteristic for all projects undertaken by the Department of Transport and Public Works, which is in keeping with our mission to deliver infrastructure and services that promote socio-economic outcomes and safe, empowered, and connected communities.
There were also a number of learnership opportunities on site, with four participants successfully completing the Learnership Programmme, and one participant gaining permanent appointment.
As part of the project, extra care was taken to protect the natural vegetation that would be affected by the construction work. A full nursery was set up and maintained on site to facilitate the rehabilitation and re-vegetation of the area affected by the construction of the road. The nursery team collected seeds from the areas which were added to the hydro seeding mixtures. A wetland section was created in the nursery to store safely the wetland plants rescued from the relevant streams prior to construction. Close to 3000 individual plants were then re-planted when it was safe to do so. An alien vegetation clearing team was also established, which cleared a buffer zone of approximately 20m on both sides of the road reserve.
An environmental offset had to be agreed to with the Department of Environmental Affairs prior to the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This was done to mitigate the effect on the highly endangered species through Shaw’s Mountain Pass. A 30 hectare reserve on the slopes of Shaw’s Mountain was declared and funding provided for the future maintenance of this area.
Road infrastructure is an important factor for the productivity, safety, and future development of this country, and the Western Cape in particular. For these reasons, we will continue to do our part to plan, construct, rehabilitate and maintain the provincial road network, as a valued and strategic asset of this government.
It is therefore my wish that the completion of this road will mark the beginning of greater things to come, for all those that will travel on it, whether for work, or pleasure. May this road keep this region on the right path to progress.