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Sasol Inhambane plant. [File photo: DW]
South African multinational Sasol plans to drill for oil in southern Mozambique, but Inhambane residents and tourism operators say the project will destroy the ecosystem. The decision, however, lies in the hands of the government.
Multinational Sasol has presented a project to drill for oil in a block that spans the provinces of both Inhambane and Sofala, but the idea is being challenged by the communities affected.
During the environmental impact study process, public consultations were organised for Sasol by the company Golden Associados Moçambique Limitada, at which several tourism operators and members of the public expressed their disapproved.
Gabriel Cossa, a tourism operator in Vilankulo, Inhambane province, says the oil project will only cause destruction and poverty, and few people will get jobs.
“People working in tourism and fishing say no to this project in the Bazaruto archipelago,” he says.
“If they destroy it, Vilankulo and Inhassoro will no longer exist. There will be rampant poverty, and the gentlemen from Sasol will not employ half the workers currently employed in tourism and fishing,” he argues.
Paul Seal, another tourism operator, says the area in which the project is to be implemented is very important for tourism development, and unique at the national level. He therefore urges the government not to accept the justifications provided by consultants.
“This area is very important for the sustainable development of the population, and the government should withdraw its support for the project, which is hateful to many foreign and national citizens,” he argues.
Vilankulo resident Cipriano Neto believes tourists will not want to visit the area if there will be marine pollution.
“This project will damage marine species and undermine tourism. If we do not attract tourists, they will go elsewhere – somewhere without vibration [from the drilling] and without oil spills,” he says.
Sasol did not comment on the challenge from tourism operators and the public during public consultations.
Decision in the hands of the Government
Sasol representative Januario Mucavele says approval for the project is in the hands of the government, which will take a decision after receiving the final report on public consultations, prepared by the company contracted and due in December. The report was supposed to have reached the executive in September.
“This is just an early phase of the study and the information we are collecting from them will be included in the report that Golden, the consultant Sasol has hired, will prepare and submit to the government for its consideration and possible approval,” he explains.
Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development representative Lote Simione says that the government is waiting for the report so as to analyse it before making a decision.Source: Deutsche Welle
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