Mining companies taken to task over pollution

By Tinashe Mungazi

Mining companies operating in Hwange district have been taken to task over the deteriorating pollution of Deka river and damage to road infrastructure.

Motorists and villagers have been up in arms with coal mining companies over the continued pollution of Deka river and state of the Sinamatela road.

The Deka road, which links Hwange and Simangani among other areas, has become impassable after being damaged by haulage trucks.  

Galpex who haul coal to Hwange Power Station uses the Deka road and a 6km stretch of the road is severely damaged. Zambezi Gas and Makomo Resources use the Sinamatela road to haul coal to the power station. As a result of these activities there is a lot of dust pollution as well as damage to the road infrastructure caused by haulage and dump trucks.  

The Deka river on the other hand is being polluted by effluent discharged into the streams that eventually pour into it by Zimbabwe Power Company, Galpex and Hwange Colliery Company. Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) from Colliery’s abandoned underground activities has been blamed as the chief culprit of Deka river pollution.

Most companies save for Hwange Colliery have a poor social corporate responsibility track record and have been accused of looting resources from the resource-rich district and leaving behind a trail of poverty.

In a meeting, which was attended by representatives from Galpex, Makomo, Zambezi Gas, Hwange Colliery Company, David Qui and government department heads, Hwange DCC chairman Matthew Muleya blasted the companies for plundering natural resources while neglecting their social corporate responsibility and exposing communities to health complications.

“Makomo, ZESA and Deka roads are now death traps to all motorists and if not urgently addressed by companies operating in those areas, we are likely to witness serious accidents occurring due to dust. One has to wait for some minutes for the incoming vehicle or truck to clear the dust before proceeding. I have found this situation to be unhealthy for both our operators especially drivers and the entire community of Hwange who are always inhaling the dust,” said Muleya.

He said they were going to give the concerned companies up to 14 August to repair the affected roads as well as employ effective measures to plug the perennial pollution of Deka river before mobilizing the youths and army to block the two feeder roads that link the mines with the power station.

“Several meetings have been called and there have been promising that they are going to do something about it but to date nothing has been done. The health of the people have been deteriorating from the dust and roads damaged no we can’t accept that. The problem is maybe we were very soft to them that’s why this time we are saying this time we should close their operations. The moment we do that that’s the time they will take us seriously because they need to. I think they have been reminded to today, this 14th of August we are going to mobilise people, the youths and army and shut down their operations,” charged Muleya.

The Zanu PF politician and ward 1 councillor said it was disheartening to note that the district did not have a hospital and communities were wallowing in poverty while the companies siphoned millions from the exploitation.

“How can it be that with such multi-billion dollar businesses in its own backyards, Hwange does not even have a district hospital, lacks medicine, has broken down social amenities and other needs? Our natural resource, which is coal, should make a difference and improve the standard of living for our people. We are entitled to clean water, lighting, schools, hospitals and clinics from our coal mined in our area of jurisdiction through social corporate responsibility. Each company will be requested to avail or disclose their participation to the larger community of Hwange district quarterly. We even call for a corporate social responsibility fund where all companies contribute,” fumed Muleya.

Stakeholders blasted the summoned companies for sending low ranking officers who could not provide answers arguing that it revealed the lack of seriousness.

“The level of seriousness being exhibited by these companies is appalling to start with how can you send representatives who can’t make decision to a serious meeting like this one. I think these companies are taking us for granted because there is nothing much we are going to achieve if we do not have the management here to make commitments. These people need to know that their actions are costing our people’s livelihoods as well as the party when it comes to elections,” said former councillor Sipiwe Mapfuwa.

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