Namibia: Lüderitz Residents Meet Over Manganese Pollution Threats

Lüderitz residents yesterday evening packed the local German hostel hall to express their views about manganese ore dust pollution threats.

The residents have been up in arms since December last year following what they termed illegal dumping of manganese at the harbour town.

Two South African companies started transporting manganese ore from the neighbouring Northern Cape province in South Africa to the southern coastal town towards the end of last year. The ore had had been offloaded about three kilometers outside the town, to be exported via the port of Lüderitz to China.

It has also transpired that no environmental clearance certificates were issued for the transportation, storage and export of the manganese ore.

When residents raised alarm last month and called for government intervention, the environment ministry placed a temporary suspension on the storage of manganese at the harbour town, and ordered the companies handling the transpiration and storage to rehabilitate the storage area within five days.

The police also impounded the lorries that were transporting the manganese ore.

However, a few days later the environment ministry granted Namport authorisation to store the manganese at the port of Lüderitz, and the impounded trucks were allowed to leave for South Africa.

This again ignited the residents' fears over the negative effects the manganese may have on their health and the environment.

Most residents at yesterday evening's meeting said they were not against development at the town, referring to the export of the manganese via the port of Lüderitz, but equally said those spearheading the handling and storage of manganese should have consulted with them on the health risk the manganese storage poses.

"They want to do business in a cheap way at the expense of the locals' health," fumed local community activist Reggie Hercules.

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