October 30, 2020

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Smoke & Dust Causing High Mortality Rate-EMA

By Shingirai Vambe

For three weeks now, the Climate Change Management Department as well as players in the Energy, Agriculture, Industry and the Mining sector, are raising awareness on the carbon footprint through the National Determined Contribution (NDCs).

The awareness programme has brought in a new business approach as stipulated in the Paris Agreement reporting requirements on reduction to emissions, management and efficient energy use through use of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  (IPCC) Inventory software for GHG emissions.

Tests and measurements which were done by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) on Pomona and other industries and mines have shown that the process of Measurement Reporting and Verification are effective.

EMA spokesperson Amkela Sidange told Post On Sunday that carbon emissions had a life-time health impact.

“Studies have shown that exposure to high concentrations of particulate matter and other toxic emissions can result in negative health impact, ranging from coughing and wheezing to asthma attacks and bronchitis.

“It also leads to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and premature death as well as the risk of preterm birth. The effects of air pollution have also been demonstrated to be cumulative and non-reversible, hence the recurrence of air pollution episodes could result in the development of chronic conditions.

“With these life threatening effects, people living in Kadoma, Eiffel flats, the Rio Zim-run Cam and Motor gold mine are living in a hazardous environment.

For two years now, residents of Eiffel Flats have tried to find a way out but with no success.

Sidange said suspended particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, dioxins, furans were among the toxins.

Atmospheric pollution control is regulated through Statutory Instrument 72 of 2009 and the Environmental Management Act (CAP 20:27).

Section 63 of the Act stipulates that any person who emits any substances which causes air pollution in contravention of emission standards shall be guilty of an offence.

To make matters worse, Cam and Motor mine residents are living in fear as the blasts at the mine cause some houses to cracks.

Residents claim stones and cloud smoke with a funny smell often covers the air of the location each time the conduct a blast.

Some houses in the area have been repaired while others have broken windows and roofs.

Post On Sunday contacted the residents’ representative Mind Masuko who lamented what he called was abandonment by government and the company.

“Since 2018, we are being told that Cam and Motor will compensate us, buy houses or pay in monetary value. This is 2020 and the blasts continue with no help for us.

“Some residents go out of their houses when the blasts begin fearing the house could collapse,” said Masuko.

The area also hosts two other polluters; retro chrome smelting plant for nickel refinery and the Maranatha ferrochrome smelting plant making it one of the biggest and oldest mine in Zimbabwe established in 1905.

Masuko told this publication that they have gone through every office since 2018, an this include EMA, Ministry of mines and the media but nothing has changed as the situation is getting worse by day.

“We were told that the company, Cam and Motor (Rio Zimbabwe) was going to compensate us with houses or monetary form, but only two families have been paid, those who were at there area they are blasting”

“As blasts are conducted at the mine, residence are advised to go outside of their houses in case one of the houses may collapse while they are inside.

Regardless of us leaving the house stones from the mine find their way here and its a matter of time before one dies of these stones, let alone our health which is already affected by dust and emission from the mine” said Masuko.

Several houses in the area had their roofs and windows destroyed by stones and turbulence after the blast.

Health experts have highlighted that emissions in dump sites like Pomona, mining areas and industrial sites cause menstrual disorder, pre-mature and still births, thus increasing the already high mortality rate.

Contacted for comment, the minister of mines and mining development, Winston Chitando could not respond to questions sent to him after he earlier answered the call and asked for the questing to be sent on his mobile number while Rio Zimbabwe Spokesperson, Wilson Gwatiringa decided not respond after having responded to other question on the subject matter.

Sidange however added that according to the Act, section 64 stipulates that, “always ensure that all recommended abatement measures are put in place so that any likely emission is within permissible levels, which are safe for both the environment and the health of public” and the residents of Eiffel Flats have decide to write a petition to parliament after they failed to get assistance from Human Right Lawyers.

The ongoing training programme conducted by CCMD in partnership with United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) with the support from the Government of Russia are expected to produce good working practices, awareness to climate action, on health and environmentally conscious.

Invited for the workshop are members from the procurement department who are capacitated with the aim to enhance ability to infuse green procurement in line with the National Climate Policy, NDCs, Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS), envisaged National Development Strategy (NDS) within the context of Vision 2030 and related government programmes.