Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
STAKEHOLDERS in Hwange have raised a red flag on companies operating in the area for polluting the environment and water bodies.
In a meeting organised by the Zanu-PF Hwange District Coordinating Committee (DCC) at the District Development Coordinator’s boardroom on Monday, concern was raised about the level of air and water pollution as well as destruction of roads.
Sinamatela road leading to Makomo Resources and Zambezi Gas, a road leading to Zimbabwe Power Company, Hwange Power Station and Ingagula suburb and Deka road which connects Hwange town to Msuna in Zambezi are the worst affected as they have become untrafficable.
There are numerous other roads that have been damaged by trucks carrying coal around town while dust affects residential areas.
Water in Deka river is now dangerous for human and livestock consumption as it has turned green as a result of industrial effluent, according to communities living downstream.
Chief Whange recently complained that livestock still births had been recorded as a result of drinking polluted water.
Effluent into Deka river mostly comes from Hwange Colliery Company and Zimbabwe Power Company through acid mining drainage from old pits in Number 1 suburb.
Also affected by the dust pollution are Zimbabwe National Army 1.2 Infantry Battalion’s two Hwange camps and Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services which are closer to Sinamatela road.
Stakeholders want the companies to tar the roads, suppress dust and also construct ponds to trap acid or invest in water purification to prevent effluent into water bodies.
They implored mining companies to operate in a sustainable manner and invest in community development, emulating efforts made by their counterparts in other areas such as in Zvishavane, Shurugwi, Ngezi and Chegutu where infrastructure such as roads has been developed.
DCC chair Cde Matthew Muleya who chaired the meeting which was attended by representatives of Government departments, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Hwange Rural District Council and environmentalists said there is a need for the establishment of a corporate social responsibility fund that all companies should contribute to.
Makomo Resources, WK, Zambezi Gas and Hwange Colliery were the only companies represented at the meeting.
“We strongly condemn this level of negligence by companies operating in this area. The pollution is also posing security threat to ZNA camps along Sinamatela road to Makomo. One gets the feeling that businesses operating in Hwange only want to get resources with no social attachment. Hwange does not even have a district hospital and other critical services such as a boarding school yet we are rich in resources. We need clean water, lighting, schools and hospitals from our resources,” said Cde Muleya.
“Roads are now death traps and could pose challenges if they are not urgently attended to. The level of dust is too high and residents have to endure inhaling dust every day of their lives putting their lives at risk.”
There are more than 10 mining and energy development companies operating in and around Hwange.
Mr Butho Ncube who was representing Hwange Colliery said the coal miner was trying to implement measures to reduce pollution, one of them being the creation of artificial wetlands by planting reeds in affected areas to control acidity in water.
Director for Green Shango Environment Trust, an organisation that advocates and implements conservation activities in Hwange, Mr Daniel Sithole condemned unsustainable mining practices and implored companies to suppress dust so as to protect humans and the environment.
“There is high acid mine drainage from coal stocks and handling facilities which infiltrates waterways thereby affecting livelihoods and water life. There is a looming health disaster and a thriving breeding ground for covid-19 as coal dust can lead to black lung disease and other conditions. We sincerely ask the responsible mining players to value safety and environment which are central to the Government’s Vision 2030. Climate change is real and we need to work with the future in mind,” said Mr [email protected]