Members of the nomadic Bedouin Arab tribe, have forced their way into Sinai Cement Co’s plant in northern Sinai and shut down production, a Bedouin spokesman and the company’s chairman said.
The Bedouin, an Arab tribe, were demanding compensation for land that was seized from them or despoiled, said Moussa el-Delh of the Tarabin Bedouin tribe.
Sinai Cement Chairman Hassan Rateb said the protesters were merely seeking better benefits, without elaborating.
The Bedouin, who have stopped the plant’s production lines since Monday night, accused Sinai Cement of taking land without adequate compensation and of dumping toxic waste on other land and pastures, Delh said.
Delh said he would not resort to the Egyptian government judiciary and demanded that complaints against Sinai Cement and its chairman be resolved instead by customary Sinai Bedouin law.
Rateb said he was not a party in the dispute and that a minority of Bedouin was trying to exploit the country’s lack of security after Hosni Mubarak was ousted from the presidency.
"A few entered the factory without harming any of the workers inside, and production stopped. They are not against Sinai Cement, they just want to exploit the situation of the state and get more benefits," Rateb said by telephone on Wednesday.
"There are even some tribe members asking me to open the factory, but I am keeping the factory closed until they resolve their issues."
He said the government had been leasing the Sinai Cement land for 15 years. "As for production remains, they are not toxic, they are by-pass that is either buried underground or used for paving roads."
Bedouins often complain of neglect by the Cairo government and say tough living conditions have led some of their people to resort to smuggling and other activities considered criminal by the state.
Sinai Cement has a production capacity of about 3Mta, according to press reports.