|| Sarah Bracking & Patrick Bond at SDCEA workshop, Clairwood, 20 April
Click on image to enlarge
Consultation war erupts again over port expansion
FAILED attempt to engage with the representatives heading the Durban port expansion plan left more than 100 people angry and at a loss on Saturday, 20 April at the Clairwood Tamil Institute.
Erin Hanekom 22 April 2013
The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) invited representatives from Transnet, eThekwini Municipality and national and provincial government, along with South Durban residents and organisations to a meeting to discuss the developments and their impact on the community.
The purpose was to initiate an inclusive process and for Transnet to present their plans. This invitation was refused.
Instead, it seems they hastily organised a community meeting on the Strategic Infrastructure Programme 2 (SIP2), which relates to the eThekwini-Gauteng transport corridor and the port expansion on Saturday, 13 April at the Austerville community hall, said SDCEA chairman, Desmond D'Sa.
According to Desmond, interested parties were only informed of the meeting from Thursday, 11 April, with some only told on the morning of the meeting. There were no public notices inviting local people and some community organisations were not notified at all.
The meeting was delayed for two hours for bus loads of people to be brought in from other parts of eThekwini.
We support the principle of an inclusive community engagement. Nevertheless, the impression was created both that the attendance of these groups was organised at the last moment and that, as South African National Civic Organisation members, they were assumed to support the port expansion.
I believe Minister Gigaba's commitment to engaging the community, made at a previous meeting with South Durban residents, would have been better honoured by accepting the invitation to address the meeting on 20 April.
This meeting made it clear that the big decisions are already made. They have ignored the enormous opposition that South Durban residents have expressed about the added pollution, the forced displacement of people and the likely intensification of real socio-economic problems, said Desmond.
At the meeting on 20 April, Vanessa Black of Earthlife Africa explained the impact of the plan to the gathered residents. About 16% of SA's GDP is spent on logistics, which is one of the highest costs in the world.
The Durban port is inefficient and is one of the most expensive in the world, and it can't currently handle large vessels. These are the reasons why the expansion has been called. The promised South Durban job creation figures were also unclear, as about 135,000 construction jobs will be created for the entire project from KZN to Gauteng, with 85,000 spin-off jobs.
In terms of environmental and social impacts, South Durban will become an island completely surrounded by port industry.
Residential and logistic areas will be separated by a thin line of offices in support of the port industry, which appear to be planned in green areas, like, for example next to Wentworth Hospital.
The wave-break planned in the dug-out port will affect the current along the Bluff beaches and a pump-out system will have to be put in place to prevent the beaches becoming eroded over time.
Currently there are about 600 trucks on the road daily. The plan is for this to increase to 13,000, which will have a great impact on the route from South Durban to the planned Cato Manor Ridge logistics hub. The rail plan does not yet seem to be complete and there is no mention of it in the Cato Manor logistics hub plan, which was finalised last year.
The concern is that this rail plan will only be implemented after 2030 and years of road chaos.
She said the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process hasn't begun for the dug-out port. They say it is the next priority and the plan is for the public participation process to be for the whole KZN to Gauteng corridor, not divided into area-specific portions.
What we need is not only a genuine participation process, but one entailing alternative low-carbon, high-employment, community-strengthening development. The plans of Transnet and the municipality will have the opposite impact, said Desmond. The people who will be affected by this project have repeatedly demanded that planning be intergrated as one holistic public participation process.
Up-to-now, the fragmented strategy of government and Transnet has prevented a full perspective on the scope of the project. This has resulted in an extremely high level of alienation by affected residents and a sense that the consultation process is being manipulated.
At the 20 April meeting, residents fumed over the lack of consultation and suggested ways in which the authorities involved could negate the negativity they were receiving.
They suggested suspending the current plans and agreeing to involve the community in developing it in a way that will benefit both groups, would be the first step.
A pledge was signed by those gathered stating they would attend all meetings relating to the port expansion and fight for their communities.
Durban Port's Poverty, Consumerism, Enoughness
Sarah Bracking (The Africa Report) 29 April 2013
If an oil carrying ship hits the rocks off the Durban coast where I live it will cause a spill that will create many jobs, to pick up all the dead birds from the beaches up and down the coast. Economists who love capitalism do not see a problem with the consumer as shopping machine, because for them consumption contributes to job creation and economic growth, which they also see as completely problem free positive things. I don't.
Poverty, scarcity and frugality are related but importantly different concepts, as Wolfgang Sachs once wrote in a brilliant essay in just as good a book called Planet Dialectics in 1999. Importantly, for most of human history frugality has been the state of life, there was not really very much to go around, so people learned to be very careful with their possessions, a sort of 'waste not, want not' existence.
But then, capitalist markets, and the economics that justifies them invented scarcity as an organising principle of societies wherein the exploitation and expropriation of some peoples' things and labour is carried out by others, creating a wealthy class that gets wealthier, which after 400 years or so leads us to modern day inequality, the worst ever recorded.
In economic theory, markets deal with scarcity by automatically balancing the available supply of a thing with the demand that people have for it, and at that point a price emerges. In other words, the rarer the thing, and the more people that want it, the higher the price.
A lack of 'enoughness' sends addicted shopperholics to malls day after day
This is often a very cruel 'equilibrium price', particularly when something that is scarce is also a basic good, like food. Before a famine, the cost of food skyrockets as traders and hoarders make merry at everybody else's expense, while the price of other assets, such as livestock or jewellery drops like the proverbial stone, as people sell anything they can to try and meet the (rising) price of food.
Many economists with some semblance of a heart thus believe that governments need to regulate scarcity, particularly around basic goods and if markets are causing adverse outcomes, such as starvation in the case of food scarcity.
But there are also economists who believe in 'free' markets, as did the late Margaret Thatcher, who believed in the fundamental principle that 'free' markets, left unattended and to their own devices, generate the best outcome for society at large through a 'hidden hand' (although in her case this was often an iron fist, and yes many thought she had no heart at all).
Scarcity, however, is not necessarily a bad thing if we manage it properly. Indeed, humanity must do this as we live in a finite globe where commodities will just run out unless the sustainability clause in the increasingly popular concept of the 'Green Economy' is actually made to have some substance.
This brings us to the concept of poverty, which is essentially a classification as well as a real experienced existence for those called 'poor'.
Now don't get me wrong, poverty of course exists and is widespread and chronic for about 800 million to 1 billion people alive today. For these chronically poor people there is not enough food, or shelter, or clean water on a daily basis, and their notional right to government assistance under the UN Declaration of Human Rights is in some way ineffective. But for most of human history we have understood this as simply frugality, because people's perception of poverty is critically a relative one.
Many people discovered they were poor when other people became rich(er) and when they were termed as such by government or economists. Before this point, they were living frugally, if at risk of an early and easy death.
But above this group that nearly all would agree are poor today, there are a larger number of people who live in relative poverty to others, some of whom have so much income and assets that it becomes counter-intuitive to see them as poor at all!
In fact, a common middle class form of 'poverty', in Europe at least, is the person who complains that they have no money – once the mortgage, the school fees, the bills, taxes and so forth have already been paid! This is not really poverty, this is a critical lack of a sense of 'enoughness', and it is arguably a global virus, as Oliver James so eloquently argues in his book Affluenza.
Having no sense of enoughness is the largest driver of the global economy, as the advertising industry works day and night to persuade us that we need the next new thing, or style, or fashion.
Again in Europe, firms like IKEA are busy telling people that even furniture should become subject to fashion, so that one's sofa or kitchen table must be replaced seasonally, which of course hikes their profits and contributes to our landfill rubbish problem.
A lack of 'enoughness' sends addicted shopperholics to malls day after day, as 4 pairs of shoes is not enough, then 10, 40, 300. Capitalism loves this state of being as it drives economic growth, just as consumption drives many of us into debt.
Of course economists who love capitalism do not see a problem with the consumer as shopping machine, because for them consumption contributes to job creation and economic growth, which they also see as completely problem free positive things. I don't.
If an oil carrying ship hits the rocks off the Durban coast where I live it will cause a spill that will create many jobs, to pick up all the dead birds from the beaches up and down the coast. To clean the gorgeous Bay of Plenty, Addington's, Sun Casino, North Beach, Brighton Beach, up to Ballito and down to Amanzimtoti, and so on.
Indeed, it would cause a localised hike in economic growth and job creation – but only a crazy person would see this as a good thing.
Economic growth at all cost
So when South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told around 300 South Durban residents on 1 September, last year (2012), in Clairwood's historic Tamil Hall, that the demolition of their houses to make way for the port extension in the South Durban Basin was a really good idea, I was left in a sense of morbid awe.
He argued that it would create jobs and cause economic growth. I was also struck by his inflective addition to the 'There Is No Alternative' (TINA) school of economics that is forever in favour of free markets – for Big Oil, for mining companies and for an unsustainable future of ever increasing amounts of consumption and global warming.
And again, there was here another critical lack of a sense of enoughness, that the beautiful Port of Durban, Wilson's Wharf, the BAT Centre, the sandbank in the bay, the strip of grass beside the habour wall where the shareblock residents play football at dusk, the green and red directional lights twinkling at night is as it should be, and indeed is exactly the right size.
No sense that the Isipingo Beach, allegedly the most polluted in the world, or the primary school next to the Engen Refinery (which keeps throwing hot oil and flames into the air in sporadic accidents), where one in two children have to take inhalers to school for their asthma have not had enough already.
Then came the April 2013 notices of major refinery expansions by both BP at Sapref (next to the old airport) and Total at Island View Refinery – which together with Engen represents the largest oil refining complex on the continent. Has this community not suffered way more than its fair share of the 'externalitites' of capitalist markets to say 'enough already'?
In fact, it occurred to me while listening to the Minister of Finance the Honourable Pravin Gordhan, telling people that 'we' are in a race with the Mozambicans for economic growth, and that 'they' were building new ports, so 'we' had to as well, that maybe he was talking about a sporting fixture.
But no, the Minister had embraced the race to economic growth at any cost, so 'we' had to as well, or otherwise it would be the End of Life as We Know It. Indeed he invokes fear by arguing that the 'There is No Alternative' view of economics, if not understood by the little people could mean national disaster - a distressingly weak case intellectually.
He said that The Nation JUST HAD TO make the Port eight times as large (by capacity), destroying the sandbanks, the rare birds, chameleons, the house that Mahatma Gandhi once lived in, the cultural icons of an historic Indian community, temples, grave yards and the communities of Clairwood, Merebank, Mobeni, Wentworth and parts of Isipingo, Bluff and lower Umbilo or the future would be BLEAK and JOBLESS, and the hole in the nation's finances called sovereign debt would just grow into a figure of countless 'noughts'.
Now to destroy so much I think you would have to be pretty confident about the economic case, so taking my professional interest in the assessments, or 'impact' studies that governments do to work out the affect that a development project will have on the people and environment I tracked down the particular report, with the help of the wonderful people at the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance that is supposed to justify this particular act of structural violence.
Before opening it, it doesn't look good, as the places and people have already become an 'interface zone', and by page 3, the consultants are talking about the 'redesign' of their space.
People-less, the report talks of the urgent need that Gauteng has for oil, and the huge pipeline that has already been built from Durban to Johannesburg to fulfil the national addition to big cars, to mining and to ripping minerals out of the ground at a faster and faster pace, to pay for the stuff coming into the big malls.
It is rumoured that a Chinese company are providing financing to Transnet in exchange for a guaranteed proportion of freight volume through the port. The minerals of Africa ripped out of the ground at an ever faster pace to pay for the consumer goods imported, plastic pink things for girls, plastic blue things for boys, the waste products of global petrochemical addition. The beauty, the history, the heritage, culture, Life does not get a look in.
How many jobs lost for jobs created?
There is certainly no sense of Enoughness here. Only a shrill urgency claimed for growth and jobs, both of which are calculated and predicted in the absence of consideration for the growth that the local economy already produces, and the jobs already there, whether in a car parts vendor, a Samoosa maker in her back kitchen, a fisherperson on the sandbank or a surf club struggling on the Bay Head.
Thus the port will apparently, according to Transnet create 28,000 jobs up and down the whole infrastructural plan, from the new oil exploration work out on the continental shelf, through the logistics chain, and up to Harrismith and Joburg. More oil, more containers, more roads, more pipelines.
But how many jobs are already there in the 30,000 affected households, and in their small businesses and informal businesses. They simply don't know. One sign of a disadvantaged community is that they are never counted.
There are many numbers, and much counting, and loads of figures, diagrams and data in the very long consultancy report. In Chapter 8, the 'Composite Summary & Strategic Issues Final Draft March 2009 A Local Area Plan and Land Use Management Scheme for the Back of Port Interface Zone. Perspective' Prepared by the Graham Muller Associates Consortium, the consultants commissioned by Ethekwini Municipality consider the challenges, possibilities and strategic issues, in a nice neat table, that arise from their Back of Port 'interface redesign'.
Environmentally, under 'possibility' we are told that the biodiversity loss and further pollution mean It may be necessary to plan compensatory reserve areas, somewhere else, as land use within the area is too dense.
Thus a 'strategic issue' is that A significant area will be displaced, compensation may require remaining areas of coastal grassland such as the racecourse in addition to significant areas outside the area. The loss of habitat associated with port development may not be replaceable in the location. It may be necessary to conserve other areas within the Municipal Area. The grammar is not good here, but I take this to mean that all will be lost here, but never mind, we'll call the (already existing) racecourse 'compensation'.
In the trade of environmental impact assessment, this is called mitigation in a non-proximate offset. In plain English it is called, hard luck, we'll save something for someone else, somewhere else, by calling it compensation and promising not to destroy that as well (even if it wasn't under threat in the first place). In fact in this case, a chunk of the racecourse will indeed go under concrete, so maybe we should see what remains as our collective 'mitigation'.
But arguably the most human cruelty in this project is to be found in the summary of social impact. Here it is a 'challenge' that there is a Need for additional container capacity at a port (Super Port / Hub Port) and a challenge that there is a National focus on South Durban as key petro-chemical hub – industrial growth zone and the local desire of communities to continue living in South Durban.
Indeed, a challenge if not total recipe for distress. This is a community which from Apartheid through to now has been systematically socially excluded and made to stand at the back end of the line for service delivery improvements.
Social programmes replace homes
It was of course no accident that the dirty industries were originally put next to Indian and Black communities, and though this may sound cynical to some, that there has been a lack of investment in these areas for some considerable time, in the expectation that a project like this would one day get done. Previous forced removals have left people in squalor in apparently permanent 'transit camps', with no history of compensation.
This lack of intervention now allows for an important framing of the community as dysfunctional, a cruel twist where a place and its people can be pathologised and their forced poverty made into a reason for their ultimate destruction.
It is a 'challenge' that there is, again in the view of Consultants Inc Poverty, unemployment and [a] slow pace of transformation [which] impacts on [the] social character and conditions of [the] neighbourhoods.
Consultants Inc. observe that Social decline of large inner city zones as a result of the lack of intervention into critical social issues: [results in] crime, drugs, alcohol abuse, life skills, social norms and activities for the youth, and HIV/Aids, while Crime and the inability to manage the problem at all levels of government impacts on [the] quality of life and [the] stability of neighbourhoods. In other words, they imply that there isn't really much to be lost here as it's a pretty terrible place to live. The complexity of a neighbourhood, problems and all, is then re-framed as a sequences of social problems.
So I was particularly interested to see what 'possibilities' there were, but then quickly grew alarmed as the job creation and economic growth spoken of by the Minister has magically turned into programmes in key strategic areas to address social problems: crime prevention, drugs and alcohol and programmes for the youth.
They will lose their homes and then be sent on a social reprogramming!
In fact look a little deeper, as the Stop the Port campaign are doing, and it looks like there are derisory plans to compensate people, who will just be asked to politely walk away. A letter sent on 22 May, 2012, from the Head of Housing of Ethekwini Municipality to the ECOD Housing Committee, sums up well - that what they have is a possible resettlement in a place that is imaginary/not yet built.
Parts of the letter read: A report is to be submitted to the Housing Committee that suggestsfor relocation to Cornubia in terms of a prioritization process. The 12 settlements requested for relocation [as a consequence of the Back of Port 'development'] will be included in that report...
As the report currently stands there is a need of approximately 30 000 units identified for relocation to Cornubia. If the 764 structures (excluding the possibility of the backyard shacks in formal sites that are in the process of been quantified for Clairwood) the demand on Cornubia is further increased. The Cornubia development allows for the construction of approximately 12000 fully subsidized housing structures [not built yet]. Therefore there is an oversubscription of almost 18 000 units.
Thus in this sorry tale of 'free' markets you have Transnet, Big Oil, ideologically explained by TINA forcibly removing 30,000 affected 'units' (that is households), with no plans for compensation.
Their 'enoughness', their frugality, their communities, are to be destroyed so [bad] economists can manage 'scarcity' for Oil, without any apparent hat-tip to the ideas of the Green Economy promulgated by the Government from COP17, and the cruelty of the footnote to the plans? The people, whose very 'poverty' is being used against them.
They are depicted, after years of government neglect, as communities not worth keeping. All of which goes to show how three other related words, 'wisdom', 'education' and 'intelligence' are also very similar, but again, and critically in this case, very different as educated consultants and government ministers demonstrate so little wisdom or intelligence.
Let's say 'Enough!' I am humming that Chumbawumba classic anthem 'Enough is Enough is Enough', remembering the heroic Sokwanele group in Zimbabwe, who in a different context are shouting 'sokwanele' ('enough' in Shona), trying to get rid of the dictator and his de facto military state within a state.
I may write a book on the necessary need to restore enoughness as a concept in economics. I sometimes start that lecture with a metaphor, imagine the global economy is a car driving at 160 km per hour down the N1 with no seatbelts for the children. Would you want to increase the speed? No, not if you were sane. So why do we need any more 'economic growth'?
It is only the measurement of how much faster insane economists want an already critically unsustainable and dangerously large global economy to go. More, bigger, better, faster, consume, consume, shop.
So let's say enough.
South Durban’s battle royal
Lloyd Gedye (Citypress) 28 April 2013
Community refuses to be railroaded by Transnet and the government, writes Lloyd Gedye
‘I see your shirt says you are against the port expansion. Why?” asked Transnet CEO Brian Molefe as he confronted south Durban community leader Desmond D’sa on the steps of the Wentworth Community Hall.
After D’sa told him he’d lodged, in writing, the objections of his organisation, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, to Transnet and the eThekwini Municipality, and did not want to argue, Molefe told him: “You are a liar. You don’t understand democracy. You are irresponsible and you are lying to the community.
“Do you want to take us back?” Molefe continued. “Do you want to deny black people jobs and development, just to save some frogs?”
D’sa did not respond to this oversimplification of his neighbourhood’s concerns, nor did he react to Molefe’s playing of the race card.
But this confrontation speaks volumes about the state of engagement around Durban’s port expansion and the new dig-out port planned for the city.
Molefe, with Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba and Transport Minister Ben Martins, hosted a community meeting two weeks ago to sell the port plans to Wentworth residents.
D’sa attended as chairperson of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, a coalition of 14 environmental, community and church groups, formed in 1995.
“We are not against development,” he later told City Press, but he insists that if government and Transnet think they can bulldoze over community concerns, they have another think coming.
So why has it come to this?
According to Transnet and eThekwini documents released for public comment, the Durban port can accommodate 2.9 million containers and Transnet predicts an 8% annual increase in their number.
If they are correct, this means they will run out of capacity by 2019.
The planned expansion to the existing port – and the new dig-out port to be built on land in the suburb of Reunion occupied by the old Durban airport – will increase capacity to 20 million containers.
In terms of the South African economy, the port expansion and new dig-out port are “not a nice-to-have”, as one eThekwini official explained.
In fact, the port plans are integral to the second strategic infrastructure project of the presidential infrastructure coordinating commission. It also forms part of the National Planning Commission’s development plan.
But the ramifications for the Durban suburbs of Athlone Park, Isipingo Beach, Merewent, Austerville, Merebank, Treasure Beach, Wentworth, Jacobs, the Bluff, Umbilo and Clairwood, and those who live there are very real.
Some, such as Clairwood, are already feeling the impact of being situated close to the existing port.
A drive through Clairwood is depressing.
Rubbish is piled on street corners, sometimes containing bags of faeces because of the lack of proper sewerage.
Sex workers and drug dealers populate the streets, while illegal trucking businesses have set up next to residential homes, with up to 10 trucks parked in yards. The roads, not built for this sort of traffic, are riddled with potholes.
The city says there were 7 379 truck-related accidents on municipal land in 2011, in which 72 people died and 210 were injured.
The south Durban community is not prepared to accept this status quo.
Last April, they occupied Solomon Mahlangu Drive, which joins Umbilo to the Bluff, to protest against the truck deaths.
Government and Transnet plan to increase rail freight from the port by between 25% and 73% of total freight by 2041, reducing road freight from 75% to 27%.
But this does not mean a decrease in the number of trucks on the roads because of the extra capacity the port expansion plans will bring.
The actual number of trucks is expected to increase by 123% over the next 30 years.
“The city has purposefully allowed Clairwood to degenerate into this hellhole,” said environmentalist Bobby Peek from groundWork, who works with the community to fight heavy polluters.
“Historically, south of Umbilo River has been a free-for-all,” he said, adding that south Durban has become an industrial hub with hazardous petrochemical and paper companies moving in next to working class residents.
A submission on the port-expansion plans by the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and Earthlife Africa says the residents have health concerns.
“Studies in the area have shown the severe health crisis that has resulted,” says the document. “Children living in Merebank have higher rates of persistent asthma (32%) than children from Umlazi (17%), further away from the industry.”
Some schools in the area have reported asthma occurring among more than half of their pupils (52%). A recent study confirmed that cancer rates in Merebank are 24 times higher than in most other parts of the country.
When City Press attended a community meeting on the port plans in Umbilo late last year, the 100 residents there were asked to raise their hands if a friend or family member had cancer or a breathing complaint. More than a third raised their hands.
But pollution, trucks, prostitution and drugs are not south Durban’s only concerns.
KwaZulu-Natal subsistence fishermen are fighting Transnet for access to traditional fishing grounds, and a number of environmental NGOs have raised concerns over the destruction of endangered species and ecosystems at the dig-out port site, as well as the current harbour.
Added to this are 16 farmers, who employ hundreds of workers to farm 187 hectares of the old Durban airport land.
They had leased the land from Airports Company SA since the 1980s, but their future is now uncertain.
It’s not just their livelihood that is of concern. They also are a major source of affordable fruit, vegetables and flowers for the south Durban area.
In addition, environmentalists say the dig-out port will wipe out a large chunk of the habitat of one of the world’s rarest frogs.
The Pickersgill’s reed frog is confined to scattered pieces of land totalling 9km2, of which the old airport forms more than 2.3km2.
It is clear that the community has real concerns, regardless of whether Molefe wants to make light of their concerns and reduce them to “saving frogs”.
The community has even reached out to Transnet and the government, inviting them to address their members.
One such proposed meeting was meant to take place a week ago, but Transnet and Gigaba refused the invitation, hosting their own gathering the previous weekend in Wentworth instead.
The SA National Civic Organisation was there and, when City Press asked the members where they were from, they replied: “KwaMashu”.
Asked why they came, they said they were promised jobs.
It remains to be seen whether or not this was a case of bussing in a less confrontational crowd for public engagement.
What they said:
Transnet spokesperson Mboniso Sigonyela:
On the Wentworth community engagement: “This was an engagement session for affected communities in the area. We are not aware of people who were promised jobs for attendance.”
On the altercation between Brian Molefe and Desmond D’sa: “We disagree that the conversation was nasty, nor was it an attack. It was, however, a robust discussion on a matter of fact. So we stand by our words.
“Mr D’sa has been telling people that Transnet is planning forced removals in order to develop the proposed dig-out port. Neither Transnet nor the city has indicated an intention for forced removals to accommodate the port. When queried over these statements, Mr D’sa declined to answer. He was further queried about a message on the T-shirt he was wearing. He declined to engage, saying he was entitled to wear the misleading T-shirt. It was at that point that Mr Molefe pointed out that Mr D’sa does not understand democracy and that it is not about misleading people about nonexistent problems.
“That is the context in which the conversation took place.
“With regards to the statement about black people, it is our view that lack of investment, which Mr D’sa is advocating, hurts African people the most.
“Therefore, the proposed infrastructure programme for Durban will be of great benefit to them.”
On the consultation process: “Transnet is aware of the request for a single forum, which provides feedback and information on all related infrastructure projects that affect the area.
“This was made by the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and its affiliates. We have elevated the matter to the Strategic Integrated Project 2 steering committee.
“We believe that the committee is in the process of establishing a common platform for stakeholder engagement, as requested.”
On the Isipingo farmers: “Farmers operating on the properties already acquired by Transnet are on month-on-month contracts. We are currently in talks with a view to agreeing on longer-term contracts, as there is no immediate need to relocate farmers at this stage.”
On the KwaZulu-Natal subsistence fishermen: “Our management at the Port of Durban is engaging with the fishermen and other users with regards to access to facilities under Transnet’s control.”
At the time of going to print, the department of transport and eThekwini Municipality had not responded to questions. The department of public enterprises referred questions to Transnet.
PORT PROCESS IS FLAWED
Desmond D’SA (Sunday Tribune) 28 April 2013
‘Participation’ is a farce in south Durban writes Desmond D’SA, who asks for ‘one consultation on one vision for one development’ for the region
SOUTH Durban residents and allies campaigning against the port expansion and associated projects are dismayed and outraged at the manner in which stakeholder engagement for the digout port, the Back of Port Local Area plan and related projects has commenced.
The people who will be affected by the R250-billion project have repeatedly demanded that planning must be interrogated as one holistic public participation process, to create a development vision and plan for an all the people of south Durban. Up until now, the fragmented strategy of government and Transnet has prevented a full perspective on the scope of the project. The result is an extremely high level of alienation by affected residents and a sense that the consultation process is being manipulated.
Hundreds of south Durban people attended the meeting on September 1 last year in Clairwood where Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Mayor James Nxumalo promised a holistic process and full consultation.
We received commitments from the mayor’s office at the “developmental dialogue” on November 6, held at Moses Mabhida Stadium, and again on December 5 from the Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, that a holistic stakeholder process would be initiated.
To date we have no clarity from the government about how the promised consultative process will work. Communities still have to deal with multiple processes.
On March 12 we invited the municipal manager, the mayor, the premier of KwaZulu-Natal, the Minister of Public Enterprise, the Minister of Finance as well as Transnet to a meeting on April 20. The purpose of the meeting was to initiate an inclusive process and for the government and Transnet to present their plans. This invitation was refused.
Instead the ministries of Public Enterprises and Transport hastily organised a “community engagement” on the Strategic Infrastructure Programme-2 (SIP2) on April 13 at the Austerville Community Hall.
In contrast, it seems that a SIP2 engagement with business on April 12 was organised well in advance. SIP2 is about the eThekwini-Gauteng transport corridor and the port expansion.
The meeting included Minister Gigaba, KZN MEC for Economic Development Mike Mabuyakhulu, the premier’s spokesman Cyril Xaba, the Speaker of the eThekwini Municipality, Logie Naidoo, and Transnet’s chairman and chief executive, Mafika Mkwanazi and Brian Molefe.
The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) was notified of the community engagement on April 11.
Some organisations aligned to the ANC in Wentworth were informed the following day in the evening.
No public notices inviting local people were posted in Merebank, Isipingo, Umbilo, Amanzimtoti, and Umlazi or anywhere else. None of the residents’ organisations and community groups from Clairwood, the Bluff, and Wentworth, Umbilo or other settlements were notified.
None of the other participants in the campaign against the port expansion, such as Earthlife Africa eThekwini, groundWork or the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society were informed of the meeting.
Only a handful of people from Wentworth came because they were walking nearby and happened to hear about the meeting. The councillor of Ward 68 was only informed on the morning about a meeting occurring at the community hall.
The meeting was called for 9am. It was delayed until shortly before 11am when buses started arriving bringing people from other parts of eThekwini. We fully support the principle of an inclusive community engagement that reaches out to all eThekwini’s people.
Nevertheless, the impression was created both that the attendance of these groups was organised at the last moment and that, as SANCO (South African National Civic Organisation) members, they were assumed to support the ruling party and the port expansion.
However, it backfired on the government – members of the audience made plain that it was a charade and not proper public consultation. And from all sides, whether from Sanco or south Durban, they questioned whether the mega projects would deliver the promised jobs and development.
Minister Gigaba told the meeting he was honouring his commitment to engage the community. This was the commitment made to the south Durban constituencies on December 5.
We believe that this commitment would have been better honoured by accepting the invitation to address the community meeting on April 20.
Adrian Peters, of eThekwini Municipality, gave a presentation on SIP2 and the port expansion. This made clear that the big decisions were already made. The primary purpose of “consultation” is to get community buy in. It ignores the enormous opposition that south Durban residents are expressing about the added pollution, the forced displacement of people starting with Clairwood and Merebank, and the likely intensification of real socio-economic problems.
What we need is not only a genuine participation process but one entailing high-employment, community-strengthening development, and which will not impact on people’s lives locally or globally through climate change.
The plans of Transnet and the municipality will have the opposite impact. The track record of these official planners is appalling, and our city is littered with white elephants, construction corruption and socio-economic neglect as a result.
On April 20, the community redoubled its efforts to ensure that the concerns of labour, environment, youth, women and all our neighbourhoods are addressed properly. That meeting – to which government and Transnet officials were invited – helped to provide the information and organising that our communities need to resist the R250bn tsunami of pollution and corporate subsidies.
We have survived in south Durban against all odds, and we will continue to demand that instead of a destructive mega project, our people and environment are allowed to develop in the way we want. We need one consultation for one vision for Durban and south Durban in particular.
This statement is supported by the following organisations: Clairwood Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, Bluff, Isipingo, Merebank Residents’ Association, Earthlife Africa eThekwini, Centre For Civil Society, groundWork, Umbilo Action Group, KZN Subsistence Fisherfolks, Airport Farmers’ Association, Silverglen Civic Association, Unemployed Movement of Umlazi, Lamontville Informal Settlement, Clairwood Informal Settlement, Folweni, R2Know KZN, Durban Social Forum.