'Enough is enough,' Durban residents tell Engen after refinery explosion

09 December 2020 - 11:20 By nivashni nair
Residents living in the south Durban basin on Wednesday begged for their voices to be heard after an explosion at the Engen refinery.
Residents living in the south Durban basin on Wednesday begged for their voices to be heard after an explosion at the Engen refinery.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Wentworth and Merebank residents want the Engen refinery to compensate families who “lost everything” in last week's explosion at the plant south of Durban.

On Wednesday, hundreds of protesters gathered in Tara Road to demand all residents and workers affected by the blast be adequately compensated.

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance air quality and officer Bongani Mthembu told TimesLIVE “enough was enough” as Engen's history of gas leaks and explosions, which affected the Merebank, Wentworth and Bluff communities, were well-documented.

“We want Engen refinery's senior leadership to make themselves accountable for the damage caused by the explosion on December 4, and many other incidents that have happened in the plant before,” he said.

“All residents and workers in the south Durban basin who have been affected by the most recent blast must be adequately compensated for damages both materially and psychologically.”

Residents said some have lost their homes as a result of the latest explosion.
Residents said some have lost their homes as a result of the latest explosion.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

At least seven people were treated for smoke inhalation after the explosion and subsequent fire at the Engen refinery on Friday.

Mthembu said several residents had lost their homes.

“Engen has put them up in a B&B for just five days. That on its own is a problem. They have lost everything. What happens after five days?”

He said beyond the immediate relief sought, residents demanded Engen subject itself to a full independent review of its operations and the effects on the health and wellbeing of adjacent communities.

The protesters are expected to hand their demands to Engen later on Wednesday.

Engen management, who were called to account for the explosion before parliament on Tuesday, could not be reached for comment.

Yusa Hassan, Engen MD and chairperson, told the committee Engen was compliant and operating within the acceptable limits. He said there was insufficient information to explain the cause of the blast before investigations were completed.

TimesLIVE


subscribe