Hundreds of South Durban families are up in arms over Friday’s devastating explosion at the Engen oil refinery. Community members were seen demonstrating with placards and picketing outside the complex on Wednesday morning.
Protesters from Wentworth and Merebank gathered at Tara Road to demand all residents and workers affected by last week’s explosion at the plant be adequately compensated.
The protest followed a massive explosion on 4 December, which left several people injured.
Shockwaves greeted the vicinity in Wentworth and reached as far out as Durban Harbour, Clare Estate and Bluff.
Environmental activists said they were paying the cost of Engen with their lives.
The Protesters demanded to be allowed into the Engen premises to hand over a memorandum of demands from the community.
Residents in the area said poor maintenance and environmental negligence by the company has continued to expose them to pollution and other health hazards. They claim that their relatives have suffered respiratory issues and have linked this to the refinery.
In October, Engen management through Gavin Smith, its spokesperson issued a statement about its plans to shut down in 2023. The facility may be repurposed for alternative energy infrastructure or converted into a fuel storage facility for imported products.
Yusa Hassan, Engen MD explained that Engen was compliant and operating within the acceptable limits. He said there was no sufficient information to explain the immediate cause of the explosion but investigations were ongoing.