The N2 Wild Coast toll road has veered off track again, raising fresh questions about the affordability of a multibillion-rand scheme that has been linked to an Australian-backed mining venture.
Six years ago, facing a major backlash from business groups and commuters in KwaZulu-Natal, the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) quietly scrapped plans to recoup a major chunk of the proposed Wild Coast highway costs via a new toll plaza at Isipingo, just south of Durban.
Now the roads agency has confirmed that plans for at least two new plazas on the N2 are back on the table, the latest in a series of mixed messages from Sanral on how it will pay for the road.
Earlier in February, an international consortium ceased work and walked away from its R1.6-billion contract to build a massive bridge over the Mtentu River, one of the most expensive pillars of the larger R9-billion scheme to create a new highway along the Eastern Cape Wild Coast.
Nearly 220m high and 1.1km long, Sanral describes the Mtentu structure as one of the longest main-span balanced cantilever bridges in the world.
Aveng-Strabag (a joint venture comprising Aveng Grinaker-LTA of Johannesburg and Vienna-based Strabag International) cited force...