Approximately 250 people from Uitenhage, Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, Oyster Bay and beyond marched to Gqberha City Hall yesterday on 21 September, to draw attention to their deteriorating quality of life as a result of loadshedding and poor access to water.
The march was arranged by the community in collaboration with Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape Combined Environmental Forum.
The affected parties are calling out on the government’s poor energy decisions that include proposals for offshore oil and gas, Karpowerships and the possible resurgence of plans for new nuclear in the province. The communities raising the issue, do not believe that the aforementioned proposals are in the public’s best interest and that they threaten to worsen the already existing climate issue.
Some of the areas are built on old wetlands – the poor water quality and water drainage issues have led to other more pressing structural issues affecting houses.
Earthlife Africa’s Ulrich Steenkamp says, “We are here to support communities in the Eastern Cape because the people are suffering. Not only must they deal with load shedding, but they are also dealing with serious issues affecting their access to clean, potable water.”
Small-scale fisher communities such as those found in Oyster Bay and Jeffrey’s Bay are particularly concerned about extractive projects proposed along the coast of the Eastern Cape.
As fishing is the primary economic driver in these small coastal towns, offshore oil and gas exploration threaten to have a negative impact on aquatic life, overall health of the ocean and local livelihoods.
Phenius Nkatshuka, a fisherman from Jeffery’s Bay says, “As fishermen, we are not happy about the government’s plans for a nuclear power plant near our ocean. We depend on it for our livelihoods.”