The Democratic Alliance and the N1/N2 road upgrade project: has common sense left the building?

25 March 2013

This post has nothing at all to do with water issues.  It has to do with trying to understand the Democratic Alliance’s apparent blind opposition to getting our roads improved – seemingly for no better reason than to try and attract votes from an otherwise intransigent sector of the voting populace – namely the tolling opposition OUTA and Cosatu (fat chance with the latter).

The N2 from just west of Somerset West, to just east of Houwhoek above Bot River, is and has been grossly inadequate for decades now.  Quite apart from the long-standing impasse for the re-routing of the N2 through Somerset West, i.e. to get it off the “temporary” T2 alignment where it has been for more than 30 years, the road is a death trap and a horror to drive on during peak periods and bad weather.  The dangers are compounded by the general idiocy and skills-bereft abilities of South African drivers.  Yesterday midday, at the end of the long weekend, the road between Caledon and Somerset West was actually quite scary – and I did not observe a single traffic official during the time I was travelling.  The Easter Weekend looms and more people will die unnecessarily on this road.

As I understand it, SANRAL has wanted to upgrade the N2 route for a long time – but the DA have steadfastly blocked it.  Irrespective of who fixes up the road and then manages it, the upgrade is long overdue.  Alleviating pressure on the N1 Huguenot Tunnel by opening the second tunnel is also becoming more necessary.  It’s all very well for the DA to block progress – but if they do so then they need to come up with an alternative, i.e. the much-vaunted but seemingly cracking around the edges Western Cape DA-led government needs to get off their hands and fund it themselves.

The DA seems to have painted itself into a road issues corner with the Gauteng e-tolling issue.  I have been a regular traveller on the road between OR Tambo and Pretoria for twenty-odd years now and, apart from whatever issues the e-tolling saga has created,  the upgrade of the route has been a massive relief, at least to me.  Point of fact is that it was long overdue to be upgraded and someone did it.  It is/was highly unlikely that any other organization was going to get around to it anytime soon.  All successful economies are founded on modern transport infrastructure so opposing achieving this is questionable.  Good services have to be paid for: fact.

On a much lesser level, I recently enquired about thirty-odd years of inaction on an urban route in Somerset West.  Fat lot of good that did.  The response was that the Roads Department of the DA-managed City of Cape Town does not regard it as an issue – same excuse that the previous Nat-led and then ANC-led municipality came up with.  Maybe if you had not wasted all that money on that stupid stadium that Cape did not need you could have upgraded the road?  Or is this being too simplistic?

Perhaps I am missing something – I cannot presume to have the depth of insight and knowledge that our esteemed politicians are gifted with – but, to my mind, opposition politics does not mean that you simply oppose stuff all the time.  You have to actually show what you , the opposition, can do in terms of improving – inter alia – infrastructure – especially when its in your own backyard!  If you don’t agree with someone else’s funding model then come up with a better one – but don’t allow your dithering to continue inaction that has now persisted for three decades.





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