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Environmentalists caution against government buying SAPREF

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Environmentalists are cautioning government against purchasing the SAPREF refinery in Isipingo, south of Durban.

This after KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has said the provincial government has approached national government to acquire the refinery.

The refinery is to stop operations at the end of March. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) co-ordinator Desmond D’Sa says government is being hasty in attempting to invest in a refinery that is already past its operational life span.

He says if government purchases the refinery, it will place a massive burden on South Africans.

“That will be a disaster, that will be placing the burden on the citizens of this country to remediate the site and we must bear in mind that this refinery is over 60-years-old. But more critically now, is that Shell and BP want to sell it is an indication that the refinery is a rusty bucket and worse things are still to come and placing the burden on the taxpayers of this country is just not going to be right. I think it will be good for government to sit down and talk to all role players and stakeholders.”

This comes after the refinery, co-owned by BP and Shell, announced it would close at the end of next month.

While the provincial government envisages prospects of economic growth and job creation, the closure of the SAPREF oil refinery and Mara’s smart phone have been set-backs.

Zikalala says government should buy the refinery.

“We are disappointed by the decision of SAPREF to indefinitely suspend refinery operations in Durban by the end of March 2022. We are of the view that retaining the refinery especially the operations of refineries in our province is key for economic growth and job creation rather than solely relying on importing refined oil for that reason. We have called on the national government to buy SAPREF not only to protect jobs but to build the capacity of the state.”

Proposal slammed

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the provincial legislature has slammed the proposal that government buy the SAPREF oil refinery.

The DA’s Francois Rogers says, “Have we found out why people are leaving our province? Why big industries are leaving. Industries they are there for one thing only, that is to generate profit if they don’t run a profit then they move out. So either it is the lack of profit or there is a security problem or the cost of doing business in our province is too great. There was another prime example; the premier was telling us that government was not going to buy a petroleum company. That’s not what government should be doing, government should be creating environment in the platform for these industries can work for themselves.”

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