The agricultural union of KwaZulu-Natal, Kwanalu, has added its voice to growing concerns of risk related to traffic passing through a tollgate at Mooi River on the N3.
Earlier this week the Federation of East and Southern African Transport Associations also identified the flashpoint of truck torching, both past and present, as deserving of immediate security attention.
So extreme is the threat of unrest located within the informal settlement adjoining the tollgate that Kwanalu has called for the removal of Mooi River Toll Plaza.
The call, made to Minister Thoko Didiza at a KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) stakeholder meeting held on July 16, comes in the wake of the devastating economic consequences the closure of the toll plaza had on the agricultural sector value chain and the subsequent food shortages threat to the province.
The organisation, representing farmers, rural members, commodity groups and agri-businesses in KZN, has recommended to government that an economic security risk analysis be conducted on the location of the toll plaza.
“We strongly believe that the findings would more than justify the relocation or removal of the toll in its entirety. We call on government to acknowledge the risk that exists with its location,” said CEO of Kwanalu, Sandy La Marque.
The call is supported by the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, AgBiz.
“In addition to the move, a high-security fence should be erected to secure the freeway through the whole Mooi River municipal area. AgBiz understands the problems of unemployment and poverty in this area, but proposes that other solutions to this problem be sought and developed, independent of the N3 security,” said AgBiz chief executive, Dr John Purchase.
“This has been an ongoing problem; the closure of the toll plaza during the unrest isn’t something we haven't experienced before. The location of it is jeopardised, and is a catalyst for unrest, a soft spot, and an identified risk for anyone moving goods or services through it,” said La Marque.
La Marque went on to highlight the drastic economic consequences the closure of the toll plaza had caused to the agricultural value chain of the province.
“It was the reason farmers had to dump milk, not because they wanted to but because they couldn’t move their goods safely through the toll plaza to the rest of the country; we know that 25% of the milk that is produced in KZN is destined for the rest of South Africa. How do you move milk, eggs and other goods that are perishable, that people consume daily, when it is not safe to do so?” asked La Marque.
“Our members deserve the right to be able to continue with the day-to-day economic activities of providing food without the threat to lives or financial implications that using the Mooi River Toll Plaza places on them and their employees.”