The FF Plus shares, for various reasons, interest groups’ concerns about the planned construction of a highway through densely populated areas of Nelspruit/Mbombela in the Mbombela Local Municipality (Mbombela/Nelspruit, Barberton, Hazyview, Kaapschehoop, Skukuza, White River).
The FF Plus is demanding that the Municipality immediately halts the project and the transfer of the residential areas to SANRAL, and consults with the respective interest groups and residents.
During the Mbombela council meeting of 14 December, the Municipality requested the council to approve the transfer of certain portions of land between Stonehenge and Ntulo Wildlife Estate.
The land in question does not only run through densely populated suburban areas, but also through several large wetlands with vulnerable fauna and flora.
No records of environmental impact studies were submitted to the council as proof that such studies were conducted.
The Municipality has shifted the responsibly to conduct all impact studies to SANRAL, but there is no guarantee that SANRAL will take the devaluation of residential properties in the affected areas into account.
The Ntulo Wildlife Estate is a prestigious lifestyle estate and the construction of the planned highway will destroy the natural environment surrounding it, with serious consequences for all property owners in the area.
The same thing is currently happening in White River with the construction of the P166 bypass, which will also pass through wetlands with vulnerable and rare plant species.
The White River Rate Payers’ Association and the entire community is vehemently opposing it.
Both of these planned roads pose a threat to water security, tourism and the environment.
The FF Plus is not opposed to economic development, but a balance must be struck by weighing it up against the damage it will cause to the natural environment and the interests of residents in the area.
The FF Plus proposes that the project should be taken back to the drawing board to identify more suitable routes for these roads. The Municipality does own property which could be considered and public participation in the process will be the key to success.
At present, this seems to be a development project headed by the Municipality and SANRAL with no regard for local realities.
The FF Plus will do everything in its power to fight the planned road development.