There is much heated debate raging in Jeffreys Bay regarding the proposed building of a nuclear power station about 20 km west of the once small fishing and surfing village.

Those who are in favour of the development say that the local economy needs the boost an R 180 billion project will bring.

Medupi is being built in the Limpopo province.

Those against say that a Nuke will forever scar the region and that short term benefits simply are not enough to make up for the long term damage to tourism and the environment.

In a situation like this, it is often best to take a look and see what has happened elsewhere to gauge just how a huge project like this will affect the local community.

Eskom is busy building the fourth biggest coal power station in the world at Lephalale in the Limpopo province at a cost of nearly R 100 billion.

Yet, local businesses are complaining that they are not receiving the benefits such a huge project should have brought to the town.

Wayne Derksen, vice-chairman of the Lephalale Business Forum, claimed that business is not benefitting in the town.

“We don’t want the town to fall flat when the project is finished’, he told the Mail & Guardian.

The forum was formed in January and represents 3 000 businesses that feel they are not benefiting as much as they should.

More than 1 000 houses have been built in the past two years, but contractors and building materials were all sourced from elsewhere.

Derksen said the excuse given was that the prices from local businesses were just too high, which he said was untrue.

Locally there needs to be a measure of caution. While Eskom says nearly 2 000 locals will receive jobs during the construction of Thyspunt, the reality is that no skills training have been offered to the local community to train them up to be able to take advantage of any job opportunities.

The Impact Studies conducted on behalf of Eskom also do not adequately answer the issue of whether jobs in the fishing industry will be affected and to what degree.

What is of concern in the Impact Studies is that there will be an influx of people into the Jeffreys Bay area, most of whom will not receive jobs.

The result will be an increase in crime and other social evils like alcohol abuse, prostitution and drug usage.

The infrastructure of the Kouga will simply not cope with additional people living here. The sewage system is already beyond capacity and there are regular spills in Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp and Loerie.

Eskom has countered this concern by saying they will upgrade infrastructure in our region. However, the more it costs to build Thyspunt, the higher the cost of electricity will be for South African consumers. Furthermore, can we really expect Eskom to spend nearly a billion rand to fix up the Kouga’s infrastructure?

Should Thyspunt happen, will the residents of Jeffreys Bay still be able to afford to live here?

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