The Medupi Power Station is being constructed in Lapelale and Basson shared her experiences of a mega project and the impact on a rural municipality.
The good news is that property prices increased, accommodation establishments flourished, while catering and bottle stores all benefitted from Medupi, but crime increased and the infrastructure of Lapelale suffered, with sewage spills becoming common place in the town and roads becoming dilapidated due to the increase of heavy traffic .
The influx of job seekers created bigger informal settlements, which had not been planned for and therefore no infrastructure was built for the thousands of additional residents of the town.
“The state departments like the South African Police, hospitals and clinics also did not plan for the influx of people into Lapelale, as there is a misconception that the contractors will all go home once the construction of Medupi is complete,” said Basson.
“However, some of the contractors brought their families with them and many of the job seekers who did not get employment have also decided to remain and the clinics and hospitals cannot cope with the amount of people they now need to serve”, said Basson.
The positive spin offs according to Basson are that the big companies helped repair some of the roads in the Municipality and there is a new Mall and private hospital.
The town has also become more cosmopolitan and more mines and solar power plants are in the pipeline.
Elza Van Lingen, the leader of the DA in Kouag said that she is concerned about Kouga’s state of readiness should Thyspunt become reality.
“Our infrastructure is already unable to cope with the current demand being placed upon it.
We don’t need a mega project to create sewage spills and roads that are falling apart – so there is are legitimate concerns that Kouga is not ready for a huge project like Thyspunt,” said Van Lingen.
The residents of Kouga are still awaiting the final draft of the Thyspunt Impact Studies, which have to be completed according to law.
However, President Zuma has indicated that the nuclear deal will go ahead and that procurement could begin in the new financial year.