Ver Angola

Society

Authorities and residents concerned about gunpowder factory located in residential neighborhood of Luanda

A gunpowder factory in the middle of a residential neighborhood in the capital has worried the authorities and residents, who fear an incident similar to the one that occurred this week in Beirut, Lebanon.

: Localização, via satélite, da fábrica de pólvora
Localização, via satélite, da fábrica de pólvora  

The fear was expressed by Simão de Sousa Pereira Inglês, commander for the Strategic Objectives of the National Police, who says it is urgent to correct this problem so that Angola does not experience a scenario similar to that experienced in Beirut - which was recently swept away by an explosion that injured thousands and killed hundreds of people.

"If you put a match in, that whole Kikolo neighbourhood disappears," the commander kicked in a statement to the Jornal de Angola, admitting that the area "is an authentic powder keg.

To try to correct the problem, he suggested that the factory be installed at least 100 metres from the homes.

According to the same newspaper, which was on the site, the factory is 'glued' to the houses and, to make matters worse, there's a fuel pump, a gas station and an informal market in one of the streets near the factory.

José Panda, a resident of that neighborhood nicknamed "Pólvora", said it is very difficult to fall asleep for fear that something will happen: "It is being difficult to really catch a deep sleep, because we live next to a company that works with explosive material. We are taking a big risk".

Several incidents have already happened in that area. According to the resident, a few years ago, there was an explosion inside the factory that made everything shake. "The population couldn't identify what really happened, but it was a big explosion," he recalled.

Another resident, Kinanvuide Miguel, who has lived in the "Pólvora" neighbourhood for 14 years, also recalled some episodes: in 2007, a group of children entered the factory to steal a metallic object, but the object ended up exploding and two children died.

"Despite this sad situation, even today, children still jump over the factory wall to hunt birds and look for aluminium, copper and wood material to sell", he lamented.

Four years later, he said, another group of children set fire near the factory and the flames had to be put out by the firemen.

Despite concerns expressed by residents and authorities, the company's human resources director eventually ruled out any dangers.

He told Jornal de Angola that the Angolan company, which produces industrial explosives and imports and sells cartridges for hunting and shooting, has been operating since 1959. In addition, he said that the handling of explosive material is done with great caution.

There are "internal and external audits, monthly inspection plans and cleaning of warehouses, there is a 100 percent natural ventilation system and specialized personnel for loading and unloading," he said, adding that the simulation is done regularly.

The Santa Bárbara Gunpowder Factory, now called Maxam CPEA, is located between the "Pólvora" neighbourhoods in the municipality of Cazenga and Malueca in Cacuaco.