26 May 2022

Residents invited to have their say on the future of Congo Road

| Karyn Starmer
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Protesters outside Eurobodalla Shire Council

Residents protesting the closure of Congo Road in December 2022. Photo: Karyn Starmer.

The small village of Congo has had its main access road closed for six months now, with motorists forced to use a longer southern route.

The public previously used an unsealed section of Congo Road across private property for more than 30 years at the landowner’s discretion.

But the road north to Moruya was suddenly closed on 29 November 2021 following insurance concerns and a subsequent plan to remove 10 trees along the access road was disrupted by protesters.

Now, in a sign of the new Eurobodalla Shire councillors’ promises to listen and engage, the community is being asked to offer up their solutions to the closure via a community engagement process.

This process follows a three-month deferral of a decision about next steps for the road at a council meeting on 10 May.

READ ALSO Bega Valley creatives make at splash at Moruya Bas exhibition

Mayor Mat Hatcher has recently written to all residents of Congo inviting them to participate, saying the new council will ultimately decide the future of the road. But first, councillors want to hear from the community to ensure all potential options are explored.

“We are a new council dealing with a legacy issue,” Mayor Hatcher said. “We want to work through possible solutions with Congo residents in good faith.”

The Mayor acknowledged it had been a “difficult and divisive” issue in the community, with “no simple solution”.

people gathered on a road

Protesters, police and council staff on site on Congo Road North on 29 November 2022. Photo: Karyn Starmer.

Council says it has examined various options to establish the private property link and form a public road.

Last week’s report by staff to council outlined how these were problematic and costly while suggesting one alternative was to take no further action, leaving Congo Road south as the village’s only entry and exit.

This access, using Congo Road south, then travels onto Bingie Road. Travel time to Moruya via this southern route is longer and requires using a dangerous intersection with the Princes Highway, the scene of a fatality earlier this year.

Mayor Hatcher said the engagement aimed to establish a set of viable options developed with the community and the landowner.

“Council can then evaluate and finally vote on those options, taking full account of the legal and cost implications of whatever options are produced,” the Mayor said.

READ MORE Future of northern access to Congo to be decided by councillors

The mayor said councillors had developed an engagement process, starting with requesting community members to share their solutions with council. These solutions will be reviewed and responses prepared, then shared at a community workshop.

After the workshop, submission makers will have an opportunity to consider and verify council’s responses and make final feedback. Councillors will then look to decide at a council meeting.

Mayor Hatcher said that while there are many pieces to the process, councillors believed this was a good chance to work with the community.

“We are doing things differently and we want to hear from you,” he said.

Submissions are welcome from anyone with a solution to offer until 5 June 2022 via email [email protected] with the subject: Congo Road North Solutions.

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Open the bloody road being closed has already cost one young life and because of the parents having too relive this extremely traumatic event THEY have now sold and are moving . Trees can be regrown YOUNG LIVES CANNOT please council stand up to the minority Ron Ingram

Greg.Wedutenko2:57 pm 26 May 22

My recomendation is.Council purshase the existing roadway or proqure it as council normally does.Create an legal and formal road easment.And then legally remove the trees.Problem solved the way it should have been done originally.This is the cheapest and easiest way to solve the problem.

Iv live in Congo for 22yrs I got 3 video of the school bus that turn and reverse in Hicken st it’s not safe for kids . One bus come down and turn sit for few mins doesn’t pick up any kids at Hicken st .Roy is very nice man . I live in front of Congo camp ground having caravans missing tune and then they try to reverse. Kids from down the bottom they have to walk up to bus stop or there parents drive then up and drive over grass not good in wet weather .

Peter Southgate4:43 pm 25 May 22

At the very least there needs to be access for road and mountain bikes. There are comparatively few roads that are safe to ride on in the Moruya region and the link road provides a very safe route to get to Bingie on a road bike. With the off road cycling taking place in Mogo this access road broadens the opportunity for road riders.

Kae Nicholson Née Thurlow Thurlow2:54 pm 25 May 22

We have been permanent residents for 40+ yrs and have used this road thanks to the generosity of Mr Roy Shepherd and the only solution would be to remove the said trees for the safety of all …

N A Waters
K S Nicholson

718 Congo Rd CONGO..

Thank you .

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