March 12, 2016 blockadia and placard demonstration, CRC

Patrick Bond via    

Organised by the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance with help from, Greenpeace and other groups, a great time was had by nearly 100 protesters who - fighting the depravity of the R250 bn ($16 bn) port-petrochemical complex expansion - began the process of civil disobedience. 

From 2013 until now, SDCEA's strategy had partly been reliance upon Environmental Impact Assessments to block the eco-disastrous port-petrochem expansion process. But that strategy hit the ceiling when in 2014 the Infrastructure Development Act was passed to fast-track white-elephant mega-projects at the behest of Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel. (SDCEA is also threatening financial sanctions, as this little film shows.)

So as trucks drove down from the M4 freeway towards the Engen oil refinery for refuelling, they met a wall of protesters from 8-10am today. This morning's protest site was the M4 offramp at the Clairwood Racecourse whose beautiful trees and old stands were torn down last year to prepare for a 2000-truck logistics centre (details below). It's a critical site of struggle.       These trucks are an environmental threat to people's immediate health conditions but also to the climate. (Back in 2011, the Association for Science in South Africa recommended that the single major initiative the city could take to mitigate local emissions was to halt the needless trucking of containers - analysis that city officials subsequently ignored.)   Here comes one:     At this early stage of consciousness-raising, the harassment techniques against the trucks entail temporarily blocking the road so as to put stickers on the truck bodies.     It's so simple that even over-the-hill academics can play a bit part in decorating these trucks.       We took baby steps today. Much bigger strides lie ahead, when on 21 March (Sharpeville Day commemorating the 1960s massacre) we strategise at the Dennis Hurley Centre, and on 27 April (Freedom Day) we intend block the port itself.

An interesting problem arises: let's say we muster enough strength - and world capitalism continues to suffer its worst bout of shipping overcapacity in recorded history - to stop this expansion. It's already been delayed - details are here. What, then, if the South Durban airport becomes a nuclear energy generator site? Uh oh, not impossible, this report reminds. Better have some other placards ready, too:    

(pics by Delwyn Pillay of GreenpeaceSA.)

Patrick Bond is CCS Director and also a professor of political economy at Wits University. He authored Elite Transition and a dozen other books about South Africa and the world economy.

  Clairwood Logistics Park given the go ahead

( January 27, 2016 By TynagoCommunications Filed Under: General Business

Construction of the R3,5 billion Clairwood Logistics Park will begin within the first quarter of 2016, creating much needed employment and businessopportunities within the South Durban Basin.

This week, KwaZulu-Natal’s MEC of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr Michael Mabuyakhulu, gave the project the go ahead after his department found that the amended Environmental Impact Report (EIR) received from the Capital Property Fund in September 2014 complied with stringent regulations and adequately addressed concerns raised during an appeal. (Capital Properties has since merged with JSE listed Fortress Income Fund which will now develop the project).

It found that public participation process followed in the EIA process was more than compliant with EIA regulations and it outlined stringent parameters for development in response to objections raised. As a result, appeals lodged in response to the environmental authorisation granted in May 2015 were dismissed and the original decision was upheld.

The Clairwood Logistics Park will be located on the site of the former Clairwood Race Course which was purchased by the then Capital Property Fund in 2012 for R430 million. Fortress Income Fund intends developing approximately 350 000 square metres of warehousing with the remainder becoming paved yards to service the facilities.

The development will also include an eight hectare wetland which will be fully rehabilitated.

The EA (environmental authorisation) released by the provincial government yesterday has reduced the area for development of the site and has spelt out how Fortress Income Fund must proceed with both construction and rehabilitation of the site in order to create a sustainable wetland area and incorporate indigenous fauna and flora.

“The Clairwood Logistics Park will not only meet growing demand for A grade logistics and distribution facilities in the south of Durban, but also improve the livelihoods of surrounding communities through job creation,” said Mr Nico Prinsloo the Fortress Income Fund’s Development Manager.

The new facility is expected to create an estimated 18 900 jobs during the four year construction period and more than 4 600 permanent jobs after completion in December 2020. The development comes at a time when South Africa is facing significant job losses that will add to an already high unemployment rate as the economy slows.

The South Durban Basin, in which the Clairwood Logistics and Distribution Park falls, is a national economic hub which consists of an industrial area interspersed with a residential population. The basin is bordered by major transport linkages. Market research has indicated that both national and international businesses have a desperate need for modern logistics facilities in close proximity to both the existing port and the proposed Durban Dig Out Port.

The Clairwood Logistics Park site is strategically located and is the last remaining flat land available for development in South Durban. It is just 11,2 kilometres from the existing container terminal entrance and 3,5 kilometres from the site set aside for the Durban Dig Out port.

An efficient logistics and distribution facility close to the port is expected to minimise road traffic to congested areas to the north of the city as well as inland areas such as Hammarsdale.

The EA noted that, due to the previous lack of flat land for development that was large enough to accommodate modern logistics facilities, a clear need existed for a development of this nature. It explained that basic supply and demand market forces in co-operation with other macro factors had created quantifiable need for a development of this nature.

The Clairwood Industrial Park and Logistics Centre will significantly increase the eThekwini municipal rates base in the area once fully developed whilst also significantly increasing Durban’s contribution to KwaZulu-Natal’s gross domestic product.

The R3,5 billion to be invested in developing the site includes R110 million that will be spent on extensive upgrades of roads and infrastructure surrounding the facility. “This will not only improve traffic flow into and out of the site but will ease overall traffic flow in the area and significantly improve road safety, especially for learners attending schools close to the site,” said Prinsloo.
To date, Fortress Income Fund has invested R3,8 million in schools close to the Clairwood Logistics Park site through the Siyakha Education Trust.

Editors’ note: Fortress Income Fund, South Africa’s third largest property fund, is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. It has a portfolio of retail, commercial and industrial properties across the country. At the end of 2015, Fortress Income Fund was recognized as the top company in the Sunday Times Top 100 companies list. This tracks the best performing businesses listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange over a five year horizon. This is the first time that a property company has won the award.


SDCEA lodges comments on racecourse site’s development
THE South Durban Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) continues its fight against the industrialisation of the Clairwood Racecourse site and the perceived implications on the health and well-being of the surrounding community.
January 6, 2013

On Thursday, 12 December the SDCEA handed its comments on the proposed logistics hub to the KZN Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs and Kerry Seppings Environmental Management Specialists (KSEMS), the consultants handling the impact assessment for the development of the racecourse.

“The proposed development is a violation of people’s rights to a clean and healthy environment and to live in suburbs free from noise, toxic pollution and risk to life, which 2,200 trucks per hour will pose to the nearby residents,” said SDCEA co-ordinator, Desmond D’Sa.

“Given the history of the polluting industry and the carnage created by trucking companies, we expected the shareholders that hold our finance in their accounts would invest in cleaner and more sustainable development.

We oppose this development because our lives and community will be turned inside-out once the go ahead is given. This development is just bad medicine for the communities of Clairwood, Merebank, Wentworth, the Bluff, Isipingo, Umlazi, Lamontville and Montclair, including the surrounding suburbs and townships that use the M4.”

The list of issues raised in the submitted comments include the perceived flawed public participation process; the independence of the lead consultant; trucking concerns; climate change; all alternatives not wholly addressed; information and impacts not fully revealed; loss of biodiversity; alternatives and the overarching spatial plan.

The SDCEA has committed itself to fighting the proposed development and generating alternative options for uses of the highly-contentious site.