Schoenmakerskop is not only a tranquil, sleepy little village for its residents.

Schoenies-PenAndWash-no35Schoenmakerskop is not only a tranquil, sleepy little village for its residents. No, for many, many years it has been and still is a favourite destination for thousands of Port Elizabethans and tourists. Then there are the many cyclists who love the circuit through Schoenies will seldom find the road without cyclists irrespective of the time of day. Schoenies is a Port Elizabeth institution.
It belongs to all the people of our Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole and is loved by many. And now, some mining conglomerate wants to destroy the tranquillity, the beauty and the peace of this little village by foisting on its residents an ugly, brutal, sand digging catastrophe with enormous obnoxious trucks that will defile its road!

I attended a presentation a few nights ago when the mining company and its consultants presented its case. It is obvious huge sums of money have been spent on environmental, social and other impact studies. The consultants were at pains to state that they "will perform the work relating to the application in an objective manner, even if this results in views and findings that are not favourable to the applicant!" Big deal! If they found negatively it would result in the loss of any further business opportunities and fat consultancy fees for them! How in the world can they be without bias? And so pages and pages ad nauseum of technical data were spewed out justifying the mine's objectivity in its quest for mining rights. However its plethora of statistics hedged round the real issue; was a smokescreen avoiding the real concern: the unalienable right of ordinary folk to live without their living environment being unjustly threatened.

Here are the real facts:

• The proposed mine is to be sited within a kilometre from Schoenies. It will be visible from and situated next to Victoria Drive.
• The mine will recover the minerals of sand, building sand, stone aggregate and gravel and in the process demolish the dune on which the 'look out' fortress is built..
• The mine estimates some 20 heavy trucks will use the road daily. What they do not spell out, are all the smaller vehicles coming to purchase sand that the mine will attract thus further increasing the traffic flow. This is already a cause of serious traffic congestion at the Sardinia Bay turnoff.
• Victoria Drive is not equipped to cope with heavy traffic. Thousands of motorists, mainly young folk, use the road back and forth to university. Many cyclists do their training exercises along this road. More heavy trucks lumbering up the hill from Schoenies, especially with young students rushing to lectures on the road will surely be a recipe for disaster!
• The poor condition of the road is already of great concern to the Iron Man organisers who have the safety of their participants at heart. The trucks and extra traffic will be a major deterrent to future Iron Man events. The city will be under severe pressure to satisfy the organisers.
• Sand and dust carried by south-westerly winds will be an on-going nuisance to the village and could cause a potential traffic catastrophe.
• Noise pollution from the mine itself, never mind the huge trucks traipsing through the village, will pollute the environment.
• The historical WW2 "look-out" structure is under threat no matter the mining company's assurances that it is not. However, when the hillock has been removed the "look out" will be left sited on a "pimple" for lack of a better word, destroying its visual impact!
• The planned removal of the dune running northwards from the look-out structure will be aesthetically undesirable, leading to a flat, bare, featureless landscape without vegetation for years to come.
• As it is, Port Elizabeth does not have many tourist attractions. The popular drive from Marine Drive and up via Victoria Drive will be spoilt by an ugly sandpit being dug, a veritable blot on the countryside. Imagine the outcry if something similar was proposed along one of the scenic routes of Cape Town or Durban, or for that matter any other seaside resort anywhere!

The company says sand is desperately needed and makes a case for the creation of job opportunities etc. One agrees, but surely there are other areas in close proximity less likely to impact adversely on others? And is this the thin end of the wedge? Are our pristine areas such as the Baakens Valley or Blue Water Bay estuary, or Kings Beach also in some mining moguls vision who will have no hesitation in bulldozing over the local residents, all in an insatiable chase of mammon! Do we ordinary folk just stand by and let it happen?

It was pleasing to note that several town councillors attended the meeting. Councillor Lovemore was there representing our Mayor Athol Trollip. Hopefully they, as our representatives, observed the major objections raised and will hopefully encourage the City Council to add their voice to the objections.

If all the people that love Schoenies, all the cyclists, all the dog loving communities, all the hikers who enjoy the Sacramento trail, all right minded citizens who object to ordinary folk being bullied by money rich magnates will speak out then hopefully, the Government Department of Minerals will take note when they have to make a decision and that sanity will prevail!

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."(Edmund Burke)

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