Letter: Fast-track manganese ore facility relocation

We have been waiting for many years for the manganese ore berth and storage facility to move from our beautiful beachfront.

Every few years new dates are set, only for us to be disappointed by yet another deadline being missed.

In truth, keeping the manganese ore dump, reclaimers and ship-loading terminal in its current location within the Port Elizabeth harbour has dire consequences for residents living in the direct vicinity of the harbour, as well as businesses and recreational clubs situated within the harbour.

As a concerned resident who lives in South End, being an active member of one of the recreational clubs situated within the port, I have noticed a huge increase in ore dust pollution in and around the port.

Manganese ore dust is highly toxic to marine life and people.

Prolonged exposure can cause manganism that has effects very similar to Parkinson’s and motor neuron disease.

It also contributes to and worsens health issues such as asthma, and allergies such sinusitis and other respiratory issues. Our homes in South End and surrounding areas are directly affected when the easterly winds blow.

Walls are covered in brown dust, with curtains and carpets left dirty after each event.

It is very clear that manganese handling regulations are not adequately followed at the Port Elizabeth ore berth, and we often see huge plumes of ore dust rising from the conveyors and ship loaders while they are loading ships. It is clear that they are not following correct wetting and dampening procedures, especially when prevailing easterly winds are blowing.

It could be that the wetting or dampening of the ore has been limited due to the additional weight of damp ore that adds to purchasing and transport costs to the suppliers.

The severe damage to sailing yachts and power boats in the harbour has caused many yachts and boats to relocate to other ports.

The manganese dust causes staining of very expensive sails and glass fibre gel coats, and chemical reaction with stainless steel fittings.

The far-reaching consequences are the negative publicity being placed on world-wide sailing and yachting forums by crews and families sailing on visiting international yachts who declared our port as the dirtiest that they had ever seen, with most vowing never to return again.

Businesses, and especially the Pedsac and Yacht Club restaurants and facilities, fight a never-ending battle in having to keep the buildings, tables and benches clean for patrons, for hygienic reasons and to prevent clothing from being ruined.

Nowhere else in the world will a similar operation be allowed to take place in the middle of a city.

The resulting health issues caused by manganese ore dust are enormous and a huge contributor to a wide range of health issues.

It is a disgrace that this eyesore and health hazard has been allowed to continue to operate in its present location.

It has been almost two decades since the initial plans were mooted to relocate the ore terminal to the then planned Port of Coega.

There are obviously many factors at work that have delayed the project, with cost-related matters, as well as bureaucracy and red tape hampering the relocation and development of the new terminal and storage site the most likely causes of the ongoing delays.

This should, however, no longer be tolerated, and Transnet, the National Port Authority and their venture partners should spearhead the fast-tracking of the long overdue relocation of this menacing eyesore.

On behalf of affected residents and port users.

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