The Mtentu Bridge is set to knock the Bloukrans Bridge off the pedestal of being the highest bridge in South Africa and one of the highest in the world. Picture: Supplied

Mbizana - The Amadiba Crisis Committee on Tuesday pledged solidarity with the Jama community protests against South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) in Mbizana, Eastern Cape.

Since Monday last week, the residents of Jama community in inland Amadiba area, Mbizana, have been blocking the building of the Mtentu megabridge, demanding that Sanral keeps it promises to give jobs to the locals. 

The cost of the 1.1km Mtentu megabridge on N2 Wild Coast is now estimated between R1.5 billion and 1.7 billion, having increased from R375 million budgeted in the 2006 Scoping Report. 

Sanral last year awarded the contract for the bridge to a joint venture comprising Aveng Grinaker-LTA and European construction firm, Strabag.

Community members want security guards to leave the project site and demand that the project liaison committee and its officer, Zeka Mnyamana, should be changed. 

In June, the community also blocked the works for one week for the same reason. 

Amadiba Crisis Committee is an organisation formed by villagers of Xolobeni in Pondoland to fight mining titanium in their area.

"As Amadiba Crisis Committee, we are in solidarity with the Jama people. Sanral must fulfill their promises of local employment," it said. "Our experience is that Sanral botch social engagement and makes deals with contractors that doesn't want to hire locals. Local traditional leaders are bribed and communities are then divided."

Community members accuse the police of intimidating them and arresting their leaders, and say that the mayor of Mbizana also arrived to stop the blockade.

They say that unlike the Amadiba coastal villages, people in Jama and other inland villages affected by the plans for N2 Wild Coast toll road have been largely in favour of the project, because of job promises.

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African News Agency (ANA)