Gaza residents oppose new cement plant

Gaza residents oppose new cement plant
22 November 2016

In October 2016 Sanad Construction Industries (SCI) announced the launch of the first phase of a project to build a cement plant in a vacant lot in the West Bank. This first phase would see the construction of the plant’s crusher following the company obtaining approval from the Ministry of Economy and Minister of Local Environment Quality Authority (EQA). However, when representatives from SCI visited the lot this month to conduct a land survey, residents of the Arab al-Rashaida area adjacent to the lot prevented them from carrying out the planned work, arguing that the plant would cause environmental pollution. The SCI officials were forced to leave following police intervention but have vowed to return to conduct the work with further and final approvals from the EQA.

Ahmed Rashaida, a representative of the Arab al-Rashaida Community Committee, noted that they are not objecting Palestinian investments, but the project in particular due to the proximity of the anticipated cement factory to their village, as it lies about 500m from the nearest homes. Mr Rashaida went on to say that the plant would push residents of the village to migrate as a result of the environmental hazards that would affect the area, stressing that evacuating the area would make it an easy target for Israeli settlements.

However, Yasser Abu Shanab, director of the Public Health Department at the EQA, responding to concerns by assuring that the intended construction site stretches along the eastern slopes along the Dead Sea and lies 4km from the Arab al-Rashaida area. He went on to say that the EQA had requested SCI complete an environmental impact statement for the EQA to review.

CEO of Sanad Construction Industries, Louay Kawas, said that US$25m of the project’s US$130m budget will be allocated to procedures for environmental protection and that the location of the site would enable SCI to serve both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Mr Kawas said that an increased demand for cement prompted SCI to come up with the idea of building a plant. Palestine’s consumption of cement reached nearly 2Mt in 2015 and this is expected to rise to 3Mt on a yearly basis, especially in Gaza in light of the ongoing Israeli blockade.

Published under Cement News