[DEBATE] : (Fwd) More on protest against S.Durban fire
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue May 13 07:12:41 BST 2008
(Since I moved to this 'hood, that's four big fires. Does Sutcliffe have
a plan to eliminate residents in the way of his road, by burning them
out? He doesn't seem to want to let them escape, as he's keeping the
evacuation plan secret.)
Anger after sugar refinery fire
12 May 2008, 11:18
By Rivonia Naidu
The issue of the Durban's disaster management plan has again come under
the spotlight after a fire engulfed the Tongaat Hulett Sugar Refinery on
South Coast Road.
Big companies have also been blamed by residents for putting profit
ahead of the residents' safety.
On Friday, residents of Clairwood, south of Durban, were woken by a huge
explosion and sirens blaring early in the morning to find the Huletts
Sugar Refinery engulfed in flames.
The fire began at the raw sugar storage facility at the refinery just
before 5am, but was extinguished by 8am.
Two of the three raw sugar stores were destroyed by the blaze and a
third store was partially damaged. About 4 000 tons of sugar was destroyed.
On Sunday when the Daily News arrived at the refinery, they were told by
security officials that the "affected area was still barricaded and
marked as a danger zone as walls were still collapsing".
The Daily News team was not allowed on to the premises.
Chairman of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance Desmond
D'Sa said Clairwood residents, together with others from the south
Durban basin, were "fed up with fires of this nature".
"Fires have become a regular occurrence in the South Durban basin and
the people remain powerless to the city and big businesses," he said.
D'Sa said because of the frequency of the fires in the area, the city
should make the disaster management plan available to residents of
"The city said a plan is available and we must have a look at it, but
how can 285 000 people go and look at this plan. City officials shoot
themselves in the foot by not making this document available and
accessible," he said.
He said there had been three major fires in less than nine months in the
south Durban basin, with residents still confused about what to do and
where to go.
D'Sa also said it was mismanagement on the part of big companies.
"It seems that these companies are hell bent on making profit at all
costs even if there is a problem. They don't seem to care about the
effects on people," he said.
Chairwoman of council's health, safety and social services committee
Nomvuso Shabalala said the newly appointed deputy city manager Cyril
Mkhize would be looking at many issues, including safety, and the
disaster management plan would be revised.
Resident and member of the Clairwood Ratepayers' Association Mervin
Reddy said the blaze was huge and thick smoke had covered the area.
"While I did not hear of any injuries or fatalities, the fire was a
scary sight. These big companies need to involve the communities in
formulating disaster management plans because when huge fires occur it's
the residents who are directly affected," he said.
"We don't see big companies educating the communities on what they
should do if such disasters occur."
Managing director of Tongaat Hulett Sugar South Africa Martin Mohale
assured consumers the firm would be able to continue supplying local
customers based on the level of finished product available.
Divisional commander of Durban central fire department Alfred Newman
said the exact cause of the fire had not been established and that
investigations were ongoing.
* This article was originally published on page 5 of The Daily News
on May 12, 2008
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