Sand poaching threatens sewer infrastructure

Outfall sewer lines in Cowdray Park’s Hlalani Kuhle are in danger of being vandalised by suspected sand poachers who are harvesting sand along the sewer lines.

The infrastructure is being installed by the local authority under the Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (BWSSIP) funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Residents in the area are forced to rely on blair toilets as their houses are yet to be connected to the water and sewer reticulation system.

Residents who spoke to CITE said illegal sand poaching was threatening the sewer infrastructure.

“There are some residents digging pit sand on the outfall sewer pipeline which was installed by R.Davies under a Program funded by African Development Bank. The infrastructure is in danger of being destroyed before it even starts working,” said a source.

“In other areas, sand poaching is happening a meter away from the sewer pipe and in other areas is happening above the outfall sewer pipeline. The people who are responsible are residents who are known but people are afraid to speak out,” he said.

Another resident added that “sand poaching in Cowdray park has intensified. Even in the afternoon, you find people digging soil for building purposes especially pit sand.”

Contacted for a comment, ward 28 Councillor Kidwell Mujuru said he is aware of the developments and indicated that the people doing it are local residents who do not want to purchase sand legally.

“My challenge is that most of the people doing this are Cowdray Park residents who are building their houses and do not want to buy river sand and pit sand, they poach the sand by the night,” said Cllr Mujuru.

He said at one point a child died in one of the open pits dug by sand poachers.

“I attended the scene but I told residents it is their fault as they are the ones who dug those pits. R. Davies is a very professional company, it closed all pits but residents are now poaching that sand,” he said.

“I have held several meetings with residents trying to raise awareness and education that they are vandalizing their property because they are the end-users of the infrastructure.”

Councillor Mujuru added that residents are even stealing sewer lids.

“I even engaged resident chairpersons and the situation was better, however, the poachers have now resumed operations and these sewer pipes are new but they have even gone to the extent of stealing the lids covering the man holes,” he said.

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