Damietta residents block road to protest ‘polluting’ factory

Hundreds of Damietta and Sinanyah village residents on Tuesday morning blocked two roads leading to the MOPCO-Agrium factory in Damietta.

Protesters blocked the entrance to the factory and impeded workers’ movement through its front gate.

The factory had resumed operations this week after previously being ordered by local authorities to close.

Engineer Omar Abdel Salam, coordinator of the Coalition of Citizens Against Death Factories, said citizens will not allow the factory to reopen.

Opening the factory at night to resume work violates an earlier government decision to close the factory, and defies the village residents, who have suffered from the factory's pollution, said Abdel Salam.

Residents have recently protested expansions planned for the factory, which they feel is already damaging the local environment.

Abdel Salam said protesters are issuing a stern warning to Samy Suleiman, the head of the Damietta Port Authority, for his decision to reopen the factory.

Abdel Salam threatened to close the Damietta port again if it is used to transfer workers and machinery to the factory.

Traffic is moving normally past the factory in the direction of Ras al-Barr, and protesters are only demonstrating in front of the factory, he said.

The factory owners have filed two lawsuits against both the prime minister and Damietta's governor for hurting the company without legal evidence, said Medhat Youssef, chairman of MOPCO.

Youssef said the lawsuit alleges the governor illegally halted work at the factory beginning on 13 November.

The closure has caused massive losses for the company, as all import and export operations have stopped, Youssef said.

Damietta protesters ended a 10-day sit-in to protest the factory expansions after a local committee drafted a document that compelled the government to meet their demands.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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