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Cowdray Park residents fume over smoke from dumpsite

Cowdray Park residents have complained that the smoke emanating from the nearby Richmond Landfill site popularly known as Ngozi Mine is putting their health at risk and have appealed to the Bulawayo City Council to extinguish the fire.

The fire is suspected to have broken out a few days ago and huge plumes of smoke have been wafting into the suburb.  

When a CITE news crew visited the landfill yesterday, the whole area was engulfed in smoke from the burning garbage.  

The fire is said to have emanated from a patch of grass before it quickly spread to the rest the of landfill.

The fire brigade had to be called in to put out the fire.

Residents who spoke to CITE said the smoke was causing air pollution and might affect their health.

“This smoke is affecting us, so many chemicals are dumped at the landfill from hospitals and other places, we keep inhaling the fumes and this is not healthy at all,” said one resident.  

Another resident who identified as MaNdlovu said people with Tuberculosis and Asthma were having challenges with breathing.  

“The smoke is really affecting us, especially some of us who have conditions such as Asthma, TB and other different conditions. We are failing to breathe properly,” she said.

“We have tried to report the issue so that the fire could be put off because this is affecting even the nearby schools, children are also being affected.”

Contacted for a comment, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) Corporate Communications Manager Nesisa Mpofu, however, said the fire was started by people who scavenge the landfill.

“The fire was put out but what is there currently is smouldering waste. The white smoke will linger for a while taking into consideration the extent of the landfill,” said Mpofu. 

She said at the moment it is difficult to contain the smoke until it fully dies down.

“We continue to monitor the landfill site and have in the past engaged the salvaging community over the issue.” 

Mpofu added that the local authority is concerned with the illegal practice and has engaged the salvaging community over the issue but the problem keeps recurring. 

“Council has engaged its regulatory partners such as Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on the best way to prevent such recurrence.” 

“Meanwhile, the fire brigade was called to the scene to assess the fire and it deemed the fire to be under control. Unfortunately, in spite of the fire having died down, smoke from smouldering waste would linger for a short while,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Bulawayo Provincial manager Sithembisiwe Ndlovu urged the local authority to urgently attend to the issue.

“We went on ground and assessed the situation, in terms of issues there is air pollution,” said Ndlovu. 

“We are encouraging the local authority to mobilize resources to extinguish the fire faster because the other day they tried to put it off but I think it restarted again making the situation even worse.

“I was talking to them now that if they think they don’t have enough equipment they can even engage other companies with equipment to assist each other because what we want is the fire to be put off.”

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