Picture: Supplied
Durban - Mtentu residents have vowed that work will not continue on the multibillion-rand Wild Coast N2 bridge until project-related promises of jobs and business opportunities are met.

They held a meeting with the SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral), political and traditional leadership on Tuesday in an effort to resolve the stand-off that has resulted in the work being stopped.

Since last Monday, the residents of Jama community in inland Amadiba area, Mbizana, have been blocking the building of the Mtentu (Eastern Cape) mega bridge, demanding that Sanral keep its promise to give locals jobs.

Sanral announced that work on the project had stopped as it feared for the safety of employees because of the violent protests.

Members of the Federation for Radical Economic Transformation, the controversial business forum from KZN known as Amadelango Kubona, were party to the “negotiations”.

Silangwe Thwesha, one of the community members leading the protest, said Tuesday’s meeting had failed to appease the community and another was planned.

“The implementing agent was not there and it was decided the work would not continue for another seven days. The traditional leaders, Sanral, local politicians, the community and the implementing agent will have to meet,” said Thwesha.

In the list of demands, contained in a memorandum seen by The Mercury, the community demanded that security company Zero Tolerance be removed from the site.

They also demanded that labour come from Madiba and Sanral plough back into the community.

They also want building material to be sourced from the area and for local business people, who provide goods and services including construction equipment, to benefit from tenders.

“We want the steering committee that is supposed to represent the community to be changed. They were not elected by the community and they do not represent us,” said Thwesha.

“We are very concerned that local people have been frozen out. Labour is brought in from other provinces. The small local business people are not benefiting.

“Those who have been given jobs find that the jobs pay very little. They get frustrated and quit,” he said.

Mbulelo Peterson, Sanral southern region manager, said the meeting held on Tuesday was peaceful.

“The petition was received. Sanral, the contractor and Mbizana municipality have seven days to respond.”

The Mercury