Titan Cement in Alexandria refuses to negotiate with workers and residents, World Bank ombudsman office refers complaint to Compliance
On May 11, 2016, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), an independent mechanism of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), subordinate to the World Bank, referred a complaint against the Alexandria Portland Cement (Titan) to compliance officials. The compliance officials will determine whether IFC carried out the necessary environmental and social due diligence with Titan Cement.
Alexandria Portland Cement, part of the Titan Corporation, is located in the Wadi al-Qamar residential area of Alexandria. It receives the support of the IFC, whose policies require all loan recipients to comply with a set of environmental and social standards. A group of local residents, former workers at the plant, and non-governmental organizations filed a complaint in April 2015 with the CAO against Titan’s violation of these standards, particularly those related to pollution and its impact on health and safety, Titan’s violation of local laws and rights, labor conditions, and failure to disclose information and consult with the local community.
The CAO made its first visit to the area in September 2016, when it met with several area residents and interviewed worker representatives. They submitted to the delegation several government and administrative documents, reports from the State Commissioners Body, and medical reports, as well as photographs and recordings supporting their claim. Although a large number of the complainants agreed to negotiate with Titan to settle the dispute, the company rejected the idea out of hand, announcing that it did not consider the complainants legitimate representatives of the local community and stakeholders.
As is protocol when bargaining is terminated, the complaint was referred to CAO officers, who assess the relevant environmental and social standards and determine the degree of IFC compliance with standards in regard to the project. The officials then publish the findings of the inquiry, including any failures of compliance, if relevant, and the IFC’s responsiveness to the findings.
Alexandria Portland Cement has for years caused health problems for local residents, who have filed numerous complaints with various competent bodies and have sought redress in court, but to no avail. The plant began using coal as fuel, despite its location in the heart of a residential area, which has only compounded the environmental and hazardous health impacts on the population and surrounding industries.