N2 Concerns: Premier and Minister Meet with Helderberg Community
"There will be very few users of the N2 who would disagree about the need both to upgrade the road infrastructure and to address the security concerns of road-users, near-by residents and local communities." These were the words of Western Cape Premier, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, addressing community leaders, businesspeople, small farmers and taxpayers from the Helderberg on Tuesday.
The Premier and Western Cape Minister for Transport, Public Works and Property Management, Minister Tasneem Essop, were joined at the meeting and subsequent N2 site visit by Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Cllr. David Erleigh. "We are very fortunate that in Cape Town and the Western Cape, the NNP/ANC Coalition has finally brought together local, provincial and national Government around one table - and the concerns about the proposed toll road developments, the issues of safety and security, and the concerns about policing and traffic can now be properly addressed," said the Premier, "Where issues of jurisdiction became quite polarized and politicized in the past, the focus of all three spheres of Government is now firmly on the best interests of the road users."
Amongst the issues of concern raised at the meeting were the problems of animals wandering onto the N2, the problem of pedestrians on the road, the need for more visible traffic and police patrols and unease about the potential effects of toll fees on the communities.
Speaking about the proposed upgrading and rerouting of the N2 as part of the toll road developments, the Premier said: "There are two sides to these proposals - the one is the very necessary imperative to address the need for extra capacity on the N2 with vehicle usage projected to double in the next twenty years and the bottle-necks experienced on the N2 in the Helderberg at peak times. The other side is the very serious concern of communities like Helderzicht/Paardevlei, Firlands and Lwandle whose daily lives could be badly disrupted by the proposed rerouting." The Premier, the Minster and Cllr Erleigh later visited the N2 Crisis Committee in Paardevlei to discuss their concerns.
"Our roads are the arteries of our economy - carrying the life-blood of trade, commerce and tourism to all parts of the province," added the Premier, "But there will be no approval of new toll roads in our province before a number of phases have been completed which will include thorough consideration of the serious concerns of our communities who will be affected by toll-road proposals."
A recent study by an agricultural economist specialising in the deciduous fruit industry has estimated that the total impact of the proposed toll roads on affected communities will vary between R10 million and R68 million per annum. "Issues like access to markets for small and emerging farmers, higher public transport costs, reduced intra-regional tourism, and the increased costs to the Province will all be taken into serious concern," said the Premier, "Although there is clearly a need to address the growth in traffic and the need for road upgrades, the N1 and N2 Toll Roads are not a fait accompli."
Addressing the issue of security and animals on the road, Cllr. Erleigh said: "Apart from the potential for damage to vehicles these animals pose a very real danger to the lives of passing motorists and their passengers. We have received good cooperation in the past few months from the owners of live-stock and these incidents have been reduced. It simply is not possible to impound every anima,l so another potential key to solving this problem is through the creation of 'community kraals' for the settlements alongside the N2 - and we are investigating these options." An investigation by the Tygerberg Administration estimated that in Khayelitsha alone there were more than 484 heads of cattle. "We appeal to the motoring public who spot animals on the N2 to contact the Provincial Traffic officials on 946-1646 as soon as possible," said Cllr Erleigh.
On the issue of pedestrians crossing the N2, the Premier said: "Our Provincial Traffic officials have found it difficult to issue fines to people who provide false names and addresses - and are instead concentrating their efforts on issuing summonses to the motorists who are illegally stopping to pick up these pedestrian passengers. A large number of these pedestrians are accessing public transport on the N2 and this is becoming the focus of our prevention efforts." The Premier also praised the 24-hour traffic patrols between Mew Road and the airport saying that they have made a real contribution to safety in the so-called "red-zone". "We are also examining the option of opening a satellite traffic center at the Faure SAPS," said the Premier, "to bring our traffic officers even closer to the problem areas on the N2."
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