Hay-ho, here we go again. The amended Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the CBD bypass resurfaced on 20 June, amid the hustle and bustle and endless uncertainties of Covid-19.
In what looks like a cynical piece of strategy, amid all the limitations of lockdown such as a lack of access to information (with libraries where the EIA is supposed to be available for perusal still closed, and public participation limited by the regulations on gatherings/meetings), the lucky folks of Hermanus have one month – due date 20 July – to consider the report.
The road builders press on regardless of the fact that according to public participation and petitions, it appears that 75% of participants were opposed to the bypass and 3% in favour. It also appears that they have been assured by the then fact that the Western Cape government had budgeted for such a by-pass. But what budget was that? The projected costs through all the previous reports were escalating day by day and that was a very long while back.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 has happened and the authorities are daily bewailing the lack of funds to fight the pandemic and that, in actual fact, our country, which unfortunately, some would say, includes the Western Cape, is bankrupt.
So, are funds still available to build a bypass? Highly unlikely. Has the long drawn-out process of the project plus the revised EIA made it at all more feasible? Highly unlikely. Are the statistics that were collected and projections of future developments still valid, especially with the so-called new normal (whatever that is meant to be) taken into account? Highly unlikely. Has the attitude of the inhabitants against the bypass changed? Probably not, but a further survey will reveal all. If there is such a pot of gold set aside for a bypass, given current circumstances can it not be put to better use? Highly likely.
At present, who are the only winners? Why, the consultants of course, who, to be fair, were only carrying out instructions – but at a meeting held at the Fernkloof Hall aeons ago it was speculated that at that time the consultants’ fees were heading for R10 million, way back then.
Our vital, energetic and pragmatic premier, Mr. Alan Winde should please sit up and take note.