Steelworks woes

Residents say theyve been suffering from sore throats, sinusitis and skin conditions since Cisco started operating 24 hours a day.

Angry Kuils River residents have accused Mayor Dan Plato of feeding them empty promises over a steelworks they say is making them sick with its pollution.

The residents want the Cape Town Iron and Steelworks Company (CISCO) in Fabriek Street closed.

Residents showed Northern News emails, calls and SMSes to Mr Plato, which they said had all gone unanswered for the past four months after he made “empty promises about keeping residents in the loop” on the way forward.

At a public meeting in the Kuils River council chamber on April 11, Mr Plato vowed to return to the community with solutions after “the buzz of elections” had blown over on May 8.

He also suggested involving national government as he said the City had exhausted all avenues with numerous noise and emission testing.(“Steely solution sought,” Northern News, April 17).

But outraged residents say they have lost all trust in Mr Plato as he has not returned to them with a solution.

Community leader Earl Polman said: “I don’t have any faith in the DA and at that time I didn’t even vote for him (Mr Plato).”

He said residents’ complaints that Cisco was violating their human rights by exposing them to extreme levels of noise and pollution had fallen on deaf ears.

“Mr Plato’s engagement with us was nothing but poor. He acts like we are sucking things out of our thumbs. The mayor never had the decency to even tell us that he is busy and will look into the matter. He just blatantly ignores us,” said Mr Polman.

Another resident, Leon Thornton, who lives in St Duma’s, about 2km from the steel plant, said he and his son suffered from asthma-like symptoms.

“We are always wheezing and have a tight chest because Cisco continues to burn metal and plastic for 24 hours a day. My kids can’t even play outside, and then they run in saying their throats are sore and itchy,” he said.

He compared the noise at the plant to an aeroplane hovering over his roof all day.

“I was hoping to sell my house this year, but the value of my property will drop. I also don’t have the heart to let another family move in, knowing that I am struggling with the noise and emissions sent off into the air. What if they have a baby?”

Mr Thornton said he had been sending emails to Mr Plato’s office since the end of May with the last email being sent on Friday July 12 but he had had no response.

He recalled that at the meeting on April 11 Mr Plato had said his hands were tied.

“How can he say that his hands are tied if Cisco’s operating licence was done by the City of Cape Town? It looks like we were just part of his campaign programme. He is not a man of his word.”

Cisco was established in the 1960s and operated under Murray and Roberts until 2010.

During the company’s shutdown period from 2010 to 2018, housing developments mushroomed in Kuils River, with some residents being as close as 70m from the steel plant.

Residents now complaining about the ill-effects of having Cisco as a neighbour are from Vredelust, Jagtershof, St Duma’s, Highbury and Silver Oaks.

Residents say they’ve been suffering from sore throats, sinusitis and skin conditions since Cisco started operating 24 hours a day.

Cisco’s general manager, Heinrich Kriel, said he and his team met regularly with residents to discuss air pollution, and Cisco complied with the requirements of its provisional atmospheric emission licence.

By the time this edition went to print, Mr Plato’s office had not responded to questions sent last Thursday