WATCH: After the fire – we go inside the burnt out Durban warehouse


WATCH: After the fire – we go inside the burnt out Durban warehouse

Nathi Olifant | 2017-03-28 13:17:04.0

This is the ambience inside the smouldering Transnet warehouse which was almost entirely razed by a huge fire that started on Friday morning and burnt throughout the weekend.

By Tuesday morning‚ a handful of weary eThekwini firefighters and their equipment were still on the scene battling pockets of stubborn blaze using swamp lurcene bales and water.

Transnet says it will take a few more days to douse the flames at the South Coast Road‚ south Durban‚ factory.

On the premises where the fire department set up a makeshift office station‚ it is still business as usual as rigs with container cargo coming and going. But the building resembles a dead zone.

The air inside the 210 000m2 facility almost makes one gag‚ and the rugged floor is littered with ashes‚ charred objects and stagnant water – all which bear testimony of the ferocity of the blaze of the past four days.

This is the scene that greeted KwaZulu-Natal economic development‚ tourism and environmental affairs MEC Sihle Zikalala when he arrived with a delegation from eThekwini Municipality and Transnet to inspect the damage on Tuesday.

Zikalala said government was using Section 30 of the National Environmental Management Act to assess the cause of the fire‚ its severity and potential health and environmental impacts.

He thanked the firemen‚ calling them unsung heroes.

“We thank the firefighters for responding on time and working together with government agencies and organs to put the fire out.

“Such incidents do affect the economy of our province and the country. But we also would like to assure members of community that as government we are attending to the situation. We are investigating the cause of the fire and we would not want to speculate as to what causedthe fire…we are on top the situation. It’s not an easy situation‚” he said.

Transnet Properties chief executive Thabo Lebelo confirmed that the logistics giant owns the warehouse‚ the biggest in the southern hemisphere.

“Transnet property owns the shed or the warehouse‚ but it’s let on what we call a head lease to a private company. That company owns the tenants and the tenants own the cargo. We don’t manage the shed we don’t know exactly what was in and it’s part of the investigation so we will get full listing of whose good were stored here and what sort of goods were stored here that’s part of the investigation so that’s still continuing‚” he said.

Transnet said the company has put together a team to also investigate the cause and the cost of the damage.

“We would like to give this process a chance to unfold without interference through speculation‚” said spokesman Molatwane Likhethe.

“Our emergency teams are working closely with the city’s emergency services to ensure that the fire is fully extinguished. This exercise may take a few more days.”

TMG Digital/The Times

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