AFTER years of lobbying by business – and in a major boost for Eastern Cape tourism – the popular road linking Port Elizabeth to fruit growing and game reserve centre, Addo, is set to receive a much-needed overhaul.
Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler and the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber has been the driving force behind the lobbying efforts to upgrade the road, which connects the city with the Sundays River region, where Addo is situated.
“Over the last few years, we have met with the President and Ministers of national government, the Eastern Cape Premier and relevant MECs, as well as the Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor and his team to express our concerns around the decaying road.”
“This goes to show that through consistent stakeholder engagement and lobbying, implementation is possible. It truly is a win for both the citrus and tourism industries which flow through Nelson Mandel Bay that the road will finally be upgraded. The Addo road is a ‘catalyst’ for the region’s trading potential,” Hustler said.
Hustler said the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber awaits more detail on the specific amount that would be allocated to the upgrade of the Addo road. The Herald this week reports that the upgrade of the 40km stretch of road on the R335 would start in April, following the provincial government’s announcement that R5-billion would be spent on fixing and resurfacing roads in the province.
Sundays River Business Chamber Chairman Flippie Ehlers said credit has to be given to the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber. He thanked all stakeholders that had been persistent during the negotiation processes on the upgrade of the road. He said the delay to revamp this road was a “major stumbling block” for business in both Sundays River and Nelson Mandela Bay.
Ehlers said not only the agricultural sector would benefit from this revamp but also the labour force and the region’s tourism industry, in particular the Addo National Elephant Park. Ehlers said it is estimated that about 1500 workers use the Addo road route to get to work during the citrus season.
Exporters Club of South Africa: Eastern Cape Chairperson Quintin Levey said the citrus industry is a major exporter out of the Eastern Cape.
“Their margins have been eroded by the costs incurred to comply with the revised EU requirements imposed due to the citrus black spot. In addition to this, as citrus is a very cosmetic product, the damage caused to the fruit in transit along the Addo road has had a significant effect on their export value. The news of the proposed upgrade to the Addo road is therefore very positive to citrus exporters, and will enable them to further contribute to the GDP of the region,” Levey said.