Parliament, Saturday, 27 November 2021 – The Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy concluded the KwaZulu-Natal leg of the public hearings on the Gas Amendment Bill in Durban’s Westville community today, where the participants called for, among other things, the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) policy to work for them.

The participants told the committee that the gas industry is still inaccessible for them hence they are calling for the BBBEE policy to assist them. They complained that they do not get licenses to participate in the gas industry. They said although the application process to get a licence should take 60 days, but the application process for them takes forever. The committee heard that there is R2 million penalty fee for non-compliance for the small scale-enterprises.

The participants appealed for empowerment in the form of capacity-building programmes for those who have an interest in the gas industry. They called for an end to the 35 years cut of age for employment in the gas industry. They also highlighted the problem of pollution caused by the industry in areas such as Merewent where there is an oil refinery.

They told the committee that the fire explosion which occurred in December last year increased air pollution in Merewent and the community has not received a response from Engen refinery. The participants told the committee that their representatives are also not reporting to the community about the matter of pollution caused by the oil refinery.

They asked the committee to assist them to hold these oil and gas companies accountable. They further informed the committee that if there is a disaster such as the one that happened in Merewent, the community is not informed about plans to deal with the disaster. The refinery insists that it is responsible for the site where the disaster took place, and it is eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality that is responsible for the community.

The participants emphasised that the Bill must ensure that the historically disadvantaged people have access to the gas sector. The environmental organisations that participated in the hearings told the committee that the land required by a license holder for gas transmission, storage, distribution, liquefaction or regasification facilities, should be appropriated in the interests of the public.

The Chairperson of the committee, Mr Sahlulele Luzipo, informed the participants that the committee will engage the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on the issues of the pollution impacting on the communities and the environment. The Bill will also be sent to the National Council of Provinces which will determine the communities where the Bill will be taken for public hearings.

For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Ms Sureshinee Govender
Cell: 081 704 1109