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16 Feb 2018

Probe into storage depot after wetland concerns

Zainul Dawood (Daily News) Picture: Isipingo community police forum chairperson Aidan David near the containers stacked on Rana Road in Isipingo, Durban. (Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA))

A south Durban container storage depot is under investigation after it was found to be occupying a wetland (watercourse).

The Southway Freight container storage depot in Rana Road, Isipingo, was thrust into the spotlight by businesses in the area after trucks heading to the depot allegedly caused traffic congestion.

Tozi Mthethwa, eThekwini Municipality spokesperson, said the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD) was aware of the depot.

“The EPCPD has inspected the site and referred the matter to the mandated authorities: the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) and the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

“The referral was done on December 15 and we are waiting for a joint inspection with EDTEA and DWS scheduled for the next two weeks,” she said.

The container depot, Mthethwa said, was situated within a wetland and the city did not have any records of environmental authorisation or a water-use licence issued for the site. She said the site was owned by Transnet.

Nan Govender, the owner of Southway Freight, said he had a meeting with Transnet on Wednesday, but did not want to comment further.

Nompumelelo Kunene, a spokesperson for the Transnet Group, said they were investigating.

Desmond D’Sa, co-ordinator of the environmental justice organisation, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), said he was not surprised by the findings.

“The issue about this depot has been raised before, but the municipality has been complacent in enforcing the law. The city also withholds information from the SDCEA. Government departments are turning a blind eye towards this type of transgression in Clairwood and Isipingo,” he said.

There has been a sudden emergence of shipping container storage facilities in Durban. Most of them are situated south of Durban.

Recently, motorists contacted the Daily News about a depot situated in the Durban Station complex alongside Sandile Thusi Road and Masabalala Yengwa Avenue.

Mthethwa said in the Durban South area, containers were being stacked and stored on land owned by Transnet.

“In terms of the transportation zone of the land use scheme, Transnet is entitled to use its land for transportation and allied purposes,” Mthethwa said.

“A container depot does not require a licence from land use management other than a special consent approval if it is within that relevant land use zone. Building plans would probably only be required if there is a structure on the site that requires plans in terms of the national building regulations,” she said.

Mthethwa warned that where container depots had been illegally established, the normal enforcement and prosecution process would be followed.