Manganese health disaster looming in NMB’s Markman industrial area

Issued by Cllr Annette Lovemore – DA NMB Spokesperson for Public Health
14 Sep 2022 in Press Statements

The health of employees and residents in and around the Markman industrial area in Nelson Mandela Bay is in serious danger and national government needs to intervene to avert an imminent disaster.

Today, 12 September 2022, I was joined by joined by DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources, James Lorimer, MP, DA EC Provincial Chairperson, Andrew Whitfield, MP and DA NMB Mayoral Candidate, Cllr Retief Odendaal, in meeting with local business people to ascertain the impact of the manganese ore industry on their operations and health and safety in the area. (see pictures here, here, here and here)

The results from an official dust fallout survey conducted by municipal air quality officers during October, November and December 2021 confirmed that residents and workers living and working in and around the Markman industrial area are being subjected to a massive health hazard on a daily basis. In its report on the sampling the metro states that “the exercise has been a success in identifying areas where dust pollution levels exceeded the prescribed levels and were unsuitable for human health.”

The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to provide a healthy and safe working environment and to ensure that persons, other than their employees, who might be affected by their activities, are not negatively impacted upon.  We have written to the Director General of the Department of Employment and Labour to request immediate intervention.

Crumbling road infrastructure and traffic violations caused by trucks and environmental damage, product contamination and public health and safety issues caused by manganese dust, have seen growing tension between local businesses, residents, and manganese operators.

Due to the shocking state of affairs, local businesses in various sectors are contemplating relocation or even closure. Manganese operators are being allowed to proceed in this manner because metro law enforcement officials are doing very little to ensure legal compliance. We will write to the City Manager and will put her on terms to visit the Markman industrial area within the next 21 days and provide an action plan to ensure compliance.

We cannot allow this industry to be the cause of a health disaster, cost us jobs and break down our infrastructure.

Let’s get NMB working again.