Harrismith and Platberg Nature Reserve get a reprieve – for now.
Sanral’s rush to push through a plan to reroute the N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban across De Beer’s Pass, shaving just 14km off the existing route at – a cost of nearly R10 billion, has met with resistance from an unexpected quarter: the Department of Environmental Affairs.
Until now the bulk of the opposition faced by the SA National Roads Agency Ltd has come from the people of Harrismith, which is an important stop-off point along the route. Sanral’s planned new route will cross the escarpment many kilometres from Harrismith. Cheerleaders for the proposed rerouting implausibly suggest that the town will lose only a handful of jobs as a result of being bypassed.
However, an economic impact assessment by Mike Schussler of Economists.co.za reckons Harrismith stands to lose annual business worth R890 million and more than 1,600 jobs if the De Beer’s Pass project goes ahead.