“THE Kouga Muncipality is unequipped to handle a mega project like Thyspunt.”
The sobering reality of the impact a mega project can have on a rural municipality was discussed at a public meeting in Humansdorp on Saturday.
Astrid Basson, a DA councillor in the Lapelale Municipality witnessed the impact the construction of the Medupi Power Station has had on her town. “Unless careful planning and preparation takes place prior to the building of a mega project, the impact on a rural municipality can be severe,” says Basson.
“Lapelale has been subjected to increased sewage spills and deteriorating roads due to the influx of people and traffic into the town. There has also been a major increase in crime as many job seekers failed to find work and they resorted to house breakings to survive.
“The local police station was never upgra-ded, as the state departments like the police and health care view a project like Medupi as being temporary, so no plans were made to deal with the increase in population.”
The positive spin-offs from Medupi have been an increase in house prices, accommodation establishments have benefitted as have bottle stores and the catering industry.
A shopping mall and a private hospital have also been built in the town.
However, any expectation that Eskom would wave a magic wand over the town and fix up the infrastructure were quickly dispelled.
“Eskom spent R 11.5 million fixing the road to Medupi, R 10 million on a new transformer, R 31 million on a new sewage station and R 3,8 million on clinics,” says Basson.
The advice Basson has for Kouga is simple: “Plan for all contingencies prior to the start of construction should Thypunt become a reality.
“Make sure policies are in place for any contractor camps that will be built, make sure all spheres of government are involved in the planning process to ensure basic service delivery is not compromised, what measures are in place to make sure locals are actually employed, and engage with the Police to ensure they are equipped to handle an increase in crime, drug usage, alcohol abuse and strike action.”
The leader of the DA in Kouga, Elza Van Lingen, says that it is clear that Kouga is totally unprepared for a project with an estimated budget of R200 million.
“If we look at the sewage spills and the state of our roads at present, there is no way Kouga Municipality will be able to handle a mega project.”
There is still a lot of uncertainty about whether Thyspunt will go ahead or not. Residents are still awaiting the final draft of the Impact Studies, which have revealed serious flaws, and the nuclear deal has yet to be approved by Parliament.
Source: News 24