Top Durban officials slam gas pipeline

Durban councillors and African National Congress members on Tuesday night agreed to lobby against Sasol's controversial R6,5-million gas pipeline being built in Merebank.

ANC MP Ebrahim Ebrahim and ANC unicity executive committee member Nigel Gumede accepted a petition from 3 000 protesters at a large May Day protest rally which opposed the high-pressure pipeline running through their residential area.

Residents consider the pipeline a serious risk to their safety, and speaker after speaker slammed Sasol for going ahead with the illegal construction.

Rajah Naidoo, spokesperson for the Merebank Environmental Action Committee, said the pipeline was being built without local authority approval, without being advertised and without inviting public comment.

The protesters called on parliament and the council to stop the development. They claimed that before the construction began, Sasol had already violated major-hazard installation regulations.

Ebrahim pledged to table the issue in parliament and commended the community on its struggle for environmental justice.

Gumede confirmed that the council had not approved the pipeline and pledged to take the issue up in council.

Residents waved placards stating "Sasol defies Metro", "Department of Environmental Affairs Supports Capitalists," "Engen/Sasol Negotiates in Bad Faith" and "Don't Kill our Children".

The protest comes after two court actions against Sasol and the department of environmental affairs aimed at stopping the pipeline.

Ebrahim said as proper procedures had not been followed, he would take the matter up with the national minister of environmental affairs and tourism, Valli Moosa.

"I will urge the minister to stop the construction of the pipeline and that Sasol should consider another route."

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