Clarity is urgently required on whether Overstrand Municipality (as an entity, not merely some of the bureaucrats therein) supports the Hermanus CBD bypass proposal. The Amended Final EIA Report (currently out for public comment) includes a letter from Overstrand Municipality dated 9 September 2019 and signed by Municipal Manager Coenie Groenewald, confirming support for the bypass road. This directly contradicts:
- The contents of your press statement of 3 July which, referring to the roadworks currently underway at Stanford and Hawston, states: “Only once this work is completed should consideration be given to the possible need for a bypass road, and the most suitable route that such a road should follow.”
- The DA’s press statement of 6 July which confirms that position: “It should moreover be reiterated that once the aforestated roadworks are complete, only at that stage will the possibility of a bypass road be considered and, as such, what the best suited route could then be.”
- Your WhatsApp to me on 7 July, wherein you deny that council has approved a bypass road in Hermanus. You specifically state: “Dear Sandy the Council dit (sic) not approve the letter from the MM nor was approval required. The MM replied on behalf of the Overstrand Administration to questions asked by the Provincial Administration regarding the amendments to the EIA prior to publishing the EIA for public comment. Council has not approved a bypass road in Hermanus and I have issued a statement in this regard stating the position of council Regards Dudley.”
- Ward 3 Councillor Kari Brice’s WhatsApp to me on Monday 6 July 2020, wherein she clearly states: “Nothing has appeared before Council for approval. The DA Councillors unanimously support the statement as issued by the Mayor.”
Considering the position stated in points 1 – 4 above, please formally retract the letter of approval currently appended to the Amended Final EIA Report. Several written requests for a retraction have gone unanswered by your office. Overstrand Municipality cannot have it both ways. The position of bureaucrats needs to be brought into line with that of the public’s elected representatives.
The Mayor of the Overstrand Municipality, Ald Dudley Coetzee’s response:
In her first point, Ms Sandy Van Hoogstraten misquotes what I said. The current roadworks in Hawston do not have anything to do with the traffic congestion into Hermanus. This work is being undertaken to ensure that the residents of Hawston can safely enter or cross the R43.
What I have repeatedly said is the following:
The traffic congestion on the R43 leading into and out of Hermanus, from the Hawston side as well as the Stanford side, must first be addressed before consideration is given to a possible road being built to allow through traffic to bypass the town.
To fill in the background, the planning of a realignment of the R43 provincial road to bypass the CBD of Hermanus started in 2008. In 2012 SRK Consulting were appointed by the Department of Transport and Public Works in the Western Cape to undertake the Environmental Impact Study for a proposed bypass road along the urban edge of Hermanus on the mountain side of the town.
After being published for public comment, the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs & Planning in March 2018, but was rejected. A number of amendments were requested by the department. These amendments have now been completed and the revised EIR has been published for public comment to be submitted by 31 August 2020.
On 29 August 2019 the Deputy Director General, Roads Infrastructure Management in the Western Cape Government wrote to the Municipal Manager requesting written confirmation that the Overstrand Municipality supports the amendments to the EIR. This confirmation was given in writing by the Municipal Manager on 9 September 2019. It is now this confirmation of the amendments to the EIR that is seen by some, including Ms Van Hoogstraten, as approval by the Municipality for the construction of the bypass road. This is simply incorrect.
Having said this, I have given an undertaking to follow up with the Minister of Transport and Public Works in the Western Cape to ensure that he shares Council’s view on this matter. Should the Minister be of the opinion that the comments by the Municipal Manager constitute approval to proceed with the construction of a bypass road, I will have an item brought to Council to correct this misconception.