Marlaine Nair, Democratic Alliance spokesperson for Environmental Planning and Climate Protection in Durban, said the monitoring of air quality within the borders of the eThekwini Metro had been poor under the Zandile Gumede administration.
Nair has accused the ANC-led municipality of gross negligence, after explaining that eight out of 14 air quality monitoring stations were not functional – hugely unacceptable in a city where heavy industry features prominently in the local economy.
“Southern Works, Warwick Avenue, Grosvenor and Jacobs were non-functional due to storm damage and Wentworth, Ganges, City Hall, and Cato Ridge were non-functional due to problems with their data acquisition systems,” said Nair this week.
There is little doubt that the city is already failing in its duty to monitor air quality. However, there is now the very genuine fear that emissions could reach dangerous levels, undetected. It is ultimately the locals who suffer, when any government institution fails to deliver on its mandate.
“It is the right of every South African citizen to live in an environment that’s not harmful to their health or wellbeing and to have that environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations,” said Nair.
The short-term effects of such negligence can be managed but it is the long-term effects that create somewhat of a crisis. That is where the DA concerns lie.
“The DA is particularly concerned with the long-term effects of non-controlled air quality on the health of eThekwini citizens. According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), air pollution increases the risk of respiratory and heart disease in the population,” said Nair.
“Both short- and long-term exposure to air pollutants has been associated with health impacts. More severe impacts affect people who are already ill with children, the elderly and poor people being more susceptible.”