||A RENEWED burst of activity on the South Durban port and petrochemical front was witnessed at last week’s Transport Forum, where Transnet’s dig-out port project director Marc Descoins bragged about his team’s planning. “The fatal flaws analysis yielded many risks but no show-stoppers,” he said.
But Descoins apparently hasn’t factored in resident and labour opposition to the mega-project as it is currently conceived, its vast environmental implications, or rising disgust about construction-driven white elephantism.
There is also a backlash against the fatally flawed participation process.
Descoins reminds one of the similar bureaucratic overconfidence that in 2004 led former city manager Mike Sutcliffe to promote the South Durban Link Road proposal in Clairwood, and five years later a Warwick Junction shopping mall, to displace local small farmers and traders. platinum and coal more quickly to Richards Bay).
A bad omen is the nearly-complete Durban-Joburg oil pipeline, costing R25bn, more than three times its original estimate due to Transnet incompetence and what seems to be widespread construction industry collusion, including against several high-profile Durban projects – which the Competition Commission fined several firms R1.5bn for last month.
But the oil pipeline is in any case ridiculously expensive because – perhaps thanks simply to environmental racism – it diverged hundreds of kilometres from the traditional route west along the N3 highway (and its mostly-white suburbs) so as to move double the preexisting oil volume through (mostly-black) South Durban, Umbumbulu and other former KwaZulu bantustan areas. If there’s a spill there, after all, who cares.
Second, there’s the five-year dust cover under which the dig-out port’s construction will suffocate Merebank and southern Wentworth as winds blow from the south between 2015 and 2020.
These suburbs are already coated with regular oil-related sulfur and soot showers from Africa’s largest oil refining complex, as witnessed in their world-leading asthma rates.
The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, Wentworth Development Forum and Merebank Residents Association aren’t taking this lying down, vowing to halt the port expansion – as are Clairwood Residents and Ratepayers Association activists justifiably convinced that from the north, the harbour expansion creep will displace residents by the thousands from the culture-rich, 150-year-old Indian and African community.
Third, consider Descoins’s revelation that Transnet intends to privatise the vast port, which will leave the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union up in arms. When debating with SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande at the Chris Hani Institute in Joburg two weeks ago, I labelled the Pretoria government “neoliberal” and he correctly rebutted that until the Gauteng highway e-tolling fiasco, in which his party and the unions had blocked major privatisation projects.
They will have to redouble their efforts in South Durban.
Fourth is environmental opposition, not just from the very real concerns expressed by BirdLife SA, that since Durban has one of just three estuarine bays in South Africa, its “ecosystem services” value of goods and services is vast: as a heat sink and carbon sink, for biodiversity, as a fish nursery, for waste disposal, and for storm protection.
Moreover, the Bonn Convention’s protection for bird migration should make fly-away estuaries and wetlands like South Durban immune from more cementing. Yet in May, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba dismissed these concerns as worry over “frogs and chameleons”.
The only concession to ecology that Descoins made in last Thursday’s presentation concerned the vast soil pollution that will reappear in the course of digging a 20 metre deep hole in the gap between the Umlazi and Isipingo rivers: “We have to look at contamination issues. Hydrocarbons have been pumped around this area for decades and we know there have been some leaks.”
Yes, and those leaks, plus constant South Durban flaring and consumption of the refineries’ oil, are also wrecking our climate. In turn that process is raising sea level to the point – probably in just a few decades – that the rehabbed port will simply not cope with storms and submersion. But that’s for another column.
In the meantime, a very different Strategic Investment Project would recognise the urgent need to detox South Durban and reboot the local economy towards more labour-intensive low-polluting industry, and add much more public transport, renewable energy, organic agriculture not reliant upon pesticides, a “zero-waste” philosophy and a new ethos of consumption.
The South Durban activists and the national Million Climate Jobs campaign who want society to adopt this approach, remain on a vision-collision course with the municipality, Transnet and its Chinese and Western financiers, the Treasury and Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission.
Isidingo esibalulekile sokuhlanza iNingizimu neTheku ehlaselwe kakhulu ngokugcoliswa komoya wayo.
Yahunyushwa bguFaith ka-Manzi
Kuneminyakazo esiqale kabusha echwebeni kanye nalapho kuqaqele khona izimboni zamafutha eNingizimu neTheku ibonakale kahle ngesonto eledlule kwiTransport Forum, lapho umqondisi weproject yeTransnet yokumba ichweba uMarc Descoins wayetsaka khona ngokuhlela kwethimba lakhe. "Amaphutha okuhlaziya okugcina eza nobungozi obuningi kodwa lokho akuzange kusivimbe," kusho uDescoins.
Kodwa uDescoins ungathi akazange acabange ngokuphikiswa ngabahlali bendawo kanye nabasebenzi mayelana naleprojekti enkulu kangaka njengoba isiqaliwe, umthelela wayo kwezemvelo, nokwenyanya okukhulayop mayelana nokwakhiwa kwalesisakhiwo esizogcine sesingumthwalo wabatheli bentela.
Futhi sekubenomsindo omkhulu mayelana nalemizamo yokuhlanganisa ebukeka inamaphutha.
UDescoins usikhumbuza ukuzethemba okwedlulele kwababusi kwango2004 okwakuholwa kuMike Sutcliffe owayengumphathi weTheku ukugqugquzela umgwaqo ohlanganisa iNingizimu neTheku kanye neClairwood, kwathi emva kweminyake eyishlanu kwaba kungufuna ukwakha inmxanxathela yezitolo eWarwick Junction, ukuze kususwe abatshali bemifino abancane bendawo kanye nabadayisi.
Okuzoba kubi kakhulu okusekuzophethwa okuyipayipi lamafutha elisuka eThekwini liya eGol, elibiza uR25wezigidigidi, imali esiphinda phindwe kakthathu kulokhu okwakucatshangwe ukuthi kuzobiza yona ngenxa yobudedengu buka Transnet futho nokubonakala njengokushayisana kwimboni yezokwakha, okumbandakanya ukumelana namanye maprojekti amakhulu aseThekwini –lapho iKhomishani Yokuqhudelana yajezisa ngokukhokhisa izmboni ezimbalwa uR1.5wezigidigidi ngenyanga edlule.
Kodwa ipayipi lamafutha libiza lokhu okuxakile futhi okungamukeleki ngoba – mhlawumbe sibonga-nje ubandlululo ngezemvelo – lwehlukanise amakhulukhulu amakhilomitha kusuka endleleni ebifanele ngesempumalanga uma uhamba ngothelawayeka iN3 (futhi ezindawenbi lapho kuhla khona kakhulu abamhlophe) ukuze phela bahambise amafutha abekhona amaningi benqamula (ikakhulukazi ezindaweni lapho kuhla khona kakhulu abantu abamnyama) eNingizimi neTheku, eMbumbulu kanye nakwezinye izindawo okwakuyisezabelweni zabantu abamnyama. Uma kunokuchitheka kwamafutha kulezondawo, emva kwalokho, ubani oyoba nendaba.
Okwesibili, kunothuli lweminyaka eyisihlanu oluhaqile ngaphansi ngokwakhiwa kokumbiwa kwechweba okuyokwenza iMerebank ingakwazi ukuphefumula kanye neningizimu neWentworth njengoba umoya uyobe uphephetha usukela usuka eningizimu phakathi kuka2015 no2020.
Lezizindawo vele sezigcwele ukungcoliswa izinsizi zesakhowi esikhulukazi samafutha saseAfrika, njengoba kufakazeka ngokuthi kube indawo lapho kunesibalo esikhulu kakhulu sabantu abanesifo sofuba emhlabeni wonke.
ISouth Durban Community Environmental Alliance, NEWentworth Development Forum kanye neMerebank Residents Association abahlezi nje phansi, bayafunga bayagomela ukuthi bazokumisa ukunetshwa kwechweba - njengoba izishoshovu zasebaKhokhi Bentela kanye naBahlali baseClairwood ziqinisekile ukuthi kusukela enyakatho, ukusondelana nokunetshwa kwechweba kuzosusa izinkulungwane ngezinkkulungwane kwisiko elicebile, leminyaka eyikhulu namashumi amahlanu lemiphakathi yamaNdiya kanye namaAfrika.
Okwesithathu, akesibhekane nokwavezwa nguDescoins ukuthi uTransnet uzimisele ukwenza ngasese lelichweba, okuyoshiya inhlangano yabasebeni bezokuthutha kanye nabahlobene nabo iSA Transport and Allied Workers Unionixabena kakhulu. Kwinkulumo-mpikiswano ebe seChris Hani Institute eGoli emasontweni amabili edlule no nobhala jikelele weqembu lamaKhonanisi aseNingizimu Afrika uBlade Nzimande, ngabiza uhulumeni wasePitoli "ngowongxiwankulu" futhi waphikisana nalokho ukuthi kuze ukukhokhelwa kothelawaye womgwaqo waseGoli okuhlongozwa uhulumeni okuyingxki, lapho iqembu lakhe kanye nemaqembu abasebenzi bamjamisa amaprojekti amakhulu anabanikasi bangasese.
Kuzofanele bazame ngokuphindelela eNingizimu neTheku.
Okwesine ukuphikisa ngabezemvelo, hayi-nje ngezimo zangempela njengoba kusho abeBirdLife SA, ukuthi njengoba iTheku lingezinye zenzindawo ezintathu lapho kugcinwe khona iznyoni eNingizimu Afrika, " ezokusamimisa zazo okwemzemvelo" ukubiza kwezimpahla kanye nemisebenzi kusabalele kakhulu: njengoba ukushisa kuzika kanye nensizi izika, ngenxa yokuhlukahlukana kwezemvelo, njengalapho kunakekelwa khona izinhlanzi, ukuchithwa kwemfucuza, kanye nokuvikeleka lapho kunezimvula ezinkulu.
Okunye-ke futhi, ukuvikelwa kokuhamba kwezinyoni iBonn Convention kufanele kwenze ukuthi lezizindawo zokugcina izinyoni zokundiza kanye nezimnamanzi njenganseNingizimu neTheku zona zivikeleleke. Kodw2a-ke ngenyanga kaMeyi, uNgqongqoshe , weZemisebenzi Yemiphakathi uMalusi Gigaba akazange akunake lokhu wathi ukukgathazeka-nje "ngamaxoxo kanye nonwabu".
Ukuvumelana mayelana nezemvelo okukhona okukodwa yilokhu akwenza ngoLwesine olwedlule uDescoins okumayelana nokungcoliswa komhlabathi kakhulu okuzobonakala ngesikhathi sekumbiwa umgodi oshona phansi ngamamitha angmashumi amabili phakathi kwemifula uMlazi kanye neSiphingo: "Kufanele sibhekane nezindaba zokutheleleka. Siyazi ukuthi ikhemikhali ihydrocarbon impompwe isikhathi eside kulendawo futhi kubuye kwaba nokuvuza kwayo."
Yebo futhi nalokho kuvuza, kanye nokujwayeleka kokubhamuka kanye nokusetshenziswa kwamafutha kulemboni yawo eNingizimu neTheku, kushubisa isimo sethu sezulu. Bese kuthi ekugcineni lokhu kwenza kunyuse amazinga olwandle kuze kufike lapho - mhlawumbe eminyakeni engamashumi ambalwa - ukuthi lapho ichweba eselilungisiwe ngeke limelane nezichotho kanye nokuminza. Kodwa-ke lokho ngingabuye ngibhale ngakho.
Okwamanje, iStrategic Investment Project ehluke kakhulu iyokubona ukubaluleka kakhulu kokuhlanza iNingizimu neTheku kanye nokuvuselela umnotho wasendaweni ezobanabasebenzi kakhulu futhi ingagcolisi kakhulu emoyeni, namandla kagesi azobuya ageyeke kabusha, ukuzitshalela imifini ngomanyalo okungancikile kumakhemikhali okubulala izinambuzane. Ukungabekezeleli ukungcolisa kanye nezindlela ezintsha zokuthenga.
Izishoshovu zaseNingizimu neTheku kanye noMkhankaso Wemisebenzi Eyisigidi Emayelana Nesimo Sezulu ezifuna ukuthi abantu balathathe nabo lelicebo, balokho benokungqubuzana mayelna nombono kanye nomasipala, neTransnet kanye nabaxhasi bezimali baseChina kanye nabasemazweni aseNtshonalanga, Umgcinimafa kaZwelonke lanye neKhomishani Yokuhlanganisa Yezingqalasizinda kaMongameli.
UPatrick Bond ungumqondisi waseCentre for Civil Society esikhungweni semfundo ephakeme eNyuvesi yaKwaZulu-Natal.