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Rural development -Legacy project bridges the rural divide

Legacy project bridges the rural divide

Mphati Sehloho - Department of Rural Development and Land Reform

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has made significant progress in the construction of the 140-metre Nelson Mandela Legacy Bridge over the Mbashe River in the Eastern Cape.

This is in line with the commitment made by President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation Address to develop infrastructure to boost the economy and create jobs.

Villages that will receive direct spinoffs from this infrastructure project are Mvezo and Dondolo, which form part of the department’s Comprehensive Rural Development Programme sites. Many villagers will be employed in this R123-million infrastructure project.

 

New tar road

In addition to the bridge, the Mvezo project also involves the building of a new ten-kilometre tar road that will link Mvezo with the N2. This link is expected to make travelling comfortable and reduce the distance to East London, Mthatha and Idutywa by at least 50 kilometres.

Currently, whenever people of Mvezo have to travel to Idutywa they have to go via Qunu Village. This is an 86-kilometre journey and the bridge when completed will shorten the trip.

Mvezo is envisaged as a tourist attraction in the near future and the construction of the road will fast track economic development in the areas as transportation of goods to and from these areas will be with ease.

Mvezo is a small village near Idutywa town on the banks of the Mbashe River. It is a relatively poor village largely depending on subsistence farming. Donkeys are commonly used there in a number of activities including ferrying water from the Mbashe River.

 

Evironmental assessment

In executing this multi-million rand infrastructure project, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is working with various government departments including Public Works, Roads and Transport, as well as Water Affairs. During the environmental impact assessment, the following specialists conducted an environmental assessment in the area:

• Ecological specialists looked at important animals and plants. It was important to make sure that animals and plant species, particularly those that are in danger of extinction, are not removed or damaged.

• Aquatic specialists tested the quality of the water in Mbhashe River.

• Heritage experts assessed the possible impact on heritage value and attributes of cultural or historical significance in the area.

These assessments were done in accordance with the National Environmental Management Act which dictates that such studies be conducted before the construction of roads.

 

For more information, call 012 312 8112 or 083 977 4040