HWANGE residents are continuing to reject ruinous mining activity, with women from Raylton suburb staging a demonstration over heavy dust pollution by mining companies whose heavy vehicles pass through residential areas, raising dust, which locals fear could lead to a health disaster.
The women accused coking coal companies of violating section 73 of the constitution by causing air pollution in Raylton suburb.
Section 73 of the constitution of Zimbabwe says every person has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being and prevent pollution and ecological degradation.
Some of the companies have been using a narrow dirt road that enters through the residential area, despite there being a road that is specially designated for trucks. Similar incidents have been reported in various mining areas.
As previously reported by The NewsHawks last year, six women were arrested in Raylton low-density suburb in Hwange for demanding environmental justice against air pollution caused by the trucks, after they had blocked Zimbabwe Zhongxin Coking Company trucks which have been ferrying coal from Zhong Jian Colliery using a narrow dirt road that passes through the residential area.
This is despite the availability of a specially designated road for trucks. Last week, the women in collaboration with the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), marched in Hwange’s Dinde area, seeking a solution to the crisis which is affecting the residents.
According to a report by CNRG, this has been weighing on the women, whose workload at has been doubled by the pollution, while posing health risks.
Revelations have also shown that while some mining companies have medical aid schemes, they have been only taking care of their employees, leaving out their families who have been exposed to nearly the same health risks as the mine workers through the dust pollution.
“Women bear the brunt of mining costs, but they are far from enjoying the benefits. Dust pollution, among other vices, is a serious problem in Hwange. Women lose a lot of productive time trying to counter the problems caused by dust pollution.
“Some women said at times they wash the same clothes three times a day due to coal dust from shunting trucks. Fruit trees and vegetable gardens — both very dear to women — have also been severely affected.
“There have been efforts to engage duty bearers to deal with the issues, with no success. As such, CNRG in collaboration with women in Hwange organised this march against dust pollution as a way to raise awareness of the issue and to put pressure on the government and industry to take action to address the problem,” read a report by CNRG.
Conflict has been escalating between residents and companies operating in the coal-mining value chain. For instance, villagers in Dinde area of Hwange district have also been resisting a coal-mining project spearheaded by Chinese-run Beifa Investments, which is projected to displace an estimated 600 families, while damaging the environment.
A total of 206 million tonnes of coal were discovered during exploration in the area. The mine will have a lifespan of 14 years.
Community members who recently met with Beifa Investments. The Environmental Management Agency (Ema) said the project would further damage the environment.
“The coal mine will create health problems for us because it will damage our lands, displace us, and pollute our water bodies which we depend on for domestic use. Moreover, coal will lead to an increase in emissions that contribute to global climate change,” the villagers said.