Community members protest displacement by Durban’s dig-out port

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HUNDREDS of community members on Saturday expressed their disapproval of the expansion of Durban’s dig-out port.

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) and other NGOs marched to the Durban City Hall to hand over a memorandum of concerns on Saturday.

They demanded that the municipality respond to their concerns within 14 days.

The expansion will increase the harbour’s capacity to handle more containers, with fewer emplyees given that one crane will require one operator and one truck will need one driver to load containers.

Desmond D’Sa, co-ordinator of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said they were concerned about the lack of public participation in the port development.

He said residents of Wema, Jacobs, Dalton and Glebelands hostels and informal settlements surrounding the area of expansion will be displaced if the project goes ahead. He said these people are employed by small local businesses, which would be negatively affected by the project.

“The community is sidelined in this project. Last year the municipality promised to consult broadly with the community, and this has not happened until today. We are of the view that this project is not going to create jobs for locals, but for international corporations.

“This project has ignored significant social and environmental considerations in favour of the kind of neo-liberal economic policy that will not benefit these communities but rather governments and corporations invested in this project,” said D’Sa.

Among other concerns about the project is the increase in trucking on residential and national roads, and the inevitability of increased truck-related deaths, the conversion of the Clairwood racecourse into a logistics park and container depot as well as the increased health-related impacts due to the expansion of the petro-chemical industrial hub and the contribution of the entire project to climate change.

Thabo Mofokeng, eThekwini municipal spokesperson, said it is the citizens’ right to march when they have concerns. However, he said at this stage the munici­pality cannot comment until they have scrutinised the contents of the memorandum.

“The municipality will definitely respond to the memorandum within 14 days,” said Mofokeng.

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