Durban’s dig-out port expansion ‘likely to curtail jobs’

2014-03-17 00:00

DURBAN’S dig-out port expansion will simply turn it into a bigger container depot and the promises of new jobs from the project will not be met, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance co-ordinator Desmond D’Sa said yesterday.

He was speaking at a community meeting, attended by less than 100 people, held with hostel dwellers at Dalton Beer Hall, south of Durban.

At the meeting, hostel dwellers said they desperately need creches for their children, better services at the hostel, and that hostel dwellers are discriminated against in the community and women’s rights are being abused.

D’Sa said the municipality has in over two weeks loaned R1,5 billion to fund infrastructure, but nothing is being spent “in anybody’s budget” to build a creche, playground or shop for hostel dwellers.

“There is no money for water or to fix the broken pipes here,” he said.

He said the harbour expansion will increase its capacity to handle more containers, but it only needs “one crane operator and one truck driver” to load containers.

He said many jobs were also promised with the construction of the new soccer stadium, but instead, the city is spending R43 million of taxpayers’ money every year to keep it clean and to cut the lawns.

“They talk about improving our lives but new legislation is being put into place to industrialise the area further. Nothing has improved your lives in this hostel since 1994,” he said.

The uBunye Bamahostel organisation, formed by hostel dwellers in Durban, said the Wema and Jacobs Hostels will become ”human buffers” between areas set to become industry and logistics parks.

Dalton and Glebelands Hostels will likely have to deal with much increased heavy duty transport volumes and the associated social ills — crime, substance abuse, prostitution and human trafficking, said uBunye Bamahostel chairperson Zweli Vusizweni.

The community currently living at Dalton Beerhall are under threat of eviction as the city has not factored the displacement of residents from informal settlements in their port expansion plans.

Many members of these communities are employed by small local businesses which are also likely to be swallowed up by port-related industry.

Themba Mchunu, of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa said those employed to build the new harbour will be unemployed again once it is complete. “There will be no value added,” he said.

He said the fact that the employment incentive act is being promulgated means that port authorities “will use these people at a cheap price”.

Port authorities have said they estimate that up to 64 000 construction jobs will be created during the 20- to 30-year construction period, and that 25 000 more operational jobs will be created.

Vanessa Black, of Earthlife Africa Durban, said the organisation opposes the new infrastructure development laws which will give the president and Cabinet priority in decision-making, irrespective of law suits and community complaints, in order to fast-track the infrastructure projects.

“We are trying to fight it because it takes away our rights as people and to the environment,” she said.

Transnet National Port Authority spokespersons could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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