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Friday Aug 24, 2012

Residents walk out of Clairwood port meeting

Angry South Durban residents stopped officials from speaking at a meeting on the city's proposed multibillion-rand port expansion plans before stagin a walkout last night.

About 500 residents of Clairwood, Merebank and Wentworth attended a consultation meeting at the Clairwood Tamil Institute over the proposed dig-out port, which, if it goes ahead, would see several communities uprooted to make way for development.

Chanting "We are not moving", residents delivered their demands to city officials and left the venue without listening to the officials.

The city has developed a draft Back of Port Local Area, proposing rezoning in areas, including Congella, Clairwood, Jacobs, Umbilo and Rossburgh, to make space for the dig-out ports.

The development is expected to begin in 2016.

Speaking on behalf of the residents, Roland Parsothan said they had been consulting with the city for the past two years.

He said the city said there would be no evictions, but media reports said there would be.

"You cannot speak in four tongues and talk nonsense, expecting us to listen. We are not idiots. No matter how this is sugar-coated, residents will be uprooted and moved," said Parsothan.

He said that until the city was ready to reveal every detail to residents, there would be no proper consultation.

"We need to know what is happening, it is only right. They want to take informal settlers and put them in transit camps. We are dealing with human beings here, not commodities," Parsothan said.

He said the viability of the project was not guaranteed.

"It is going to be another white elephant in the city like the Moses Mabhida Stadium that is paid for by taxpayers," Parsothan said.

Residents said former city manager Mike Sutcliffe said they would not be moved during his term of office.

"They have made a somersault. How do you plan for a community that you have not consulted? We want the municipality to answer our questions clearly and unambiguously. Stop the circus and stop meeting people on a piecemeal basis, we demand one meeting," Parsothan said.

Municipality provided residents with documents explaining the dig-out port.

After Parsothan finished addressing residents, the meeting was closed despite city officials' attempt to calm the angry residents who left the hall.

Residents told officials to report back to the council that they rejected the project.

Daily News

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