Pen­ha­longa road stretch in dan­ger

The Manica Post - - Front Page - Sharon Chigeza Post Cor­re­spon­dent

A SEC­TION of the road link­ing Pen­ha­longa to Mutare and its im­me­di­ate en­vi­rons are fac­ing the dan­ger of col­laps­ing into il­le­gal mine shafts that are fast ap­proach­ing its shoul­ders, ig­nit­ing anx­ious mo­ments among res­i­dents who fear for the worst, as the rainy sea­son approaches.

Spurred by a belief that rich un­ex­ploited gold claims are ly­ing along Mutare River, gold pan­ners have dug their way through to the foun­da­tions of the tarred road lead­ing from town into Pen­ha­longa close to Pen­ha­longa Po­lice sta­tion.

Res­i­dents fear that if not stopped, the min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties might lead to the col­lapse of the road when the rains come.

A li­censed ar­ti­sanal miner, Cre­sen­zia Chimwa­nen­gara, who op­er­ates in Old Mutare, but lives in Pen­ha­longa, blamed the il­le­gal min­ers for en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion and the loom­ing threat to hu­man life it­self.

“I am wor­ried by their to­tal dis­re­gard for life and the en­vi­ron­ment. The en­vi­ron­ment is suf­fer­ing be­cause of their neg­li­gence, as no ef­forts have been made to fill the huge pits or even cor­don the shafts some of which are filled with wa­ter,” Chimwa­nen­gara said.

Chimwa­nen­gara also re­vealed that she was a mem­ber of an en­vi­ron­ment ad­vo­cacy group, which had sub­mit­ted re­ports and com­plaints con­cern­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal de­struc­tion to the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (EMA) and Mu­tasa Ru­ral Dis­trict Coun­cil, but had re­ceived no re­sponse.

Her story is shared by many res­i­dents in Pen­ha­longa. They ac­cuse the ar­ti­sanal gold min­ers of aban­don­ing pits, shafts and tun­nels with­out re­claim­ing or se­cur­ing them, which en­dan­gers the lives of both hu­mans and an­i­mals.

EMA Man­i­ca­land pro­vin­cial man­ager, Mr Kingston Chi­to­tombe ac­knowl­edged the pres­ence of wide­spread il­le­gal gold min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the Pen­ha­longa area and the dan­gers as­so­ci­ated with the dis­used mine shafts and pits.

“As an agency we are aware of the wide­spread pres­ence of such ac­tiv­i­ties in the area with the DTZ-Oz­geo Farm and Africa Univer­sity as the ma­jor hotspots.

“We have en­gaged stake­hold­ers and rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties such as Joint Op­er­a­tions Com­mand

(JOC) and the Zim­babwe Repub­lic Po­lice (ZRP) on ar­rests and reg­u­la­tion of the ac­tiv­i­ties in the area,” said Mr Chi­to­tombe.

He said their mis­sion was to reg­u­late, mon­i­tor and pro­mote sus­tain­able man­age­ment of nat­u­ral re­sources while pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment with stake­holder par­tic­i­pa­tion hence could not is­sue ar­rests on such ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We are a reg­u­la­tory body and our hands are tied on the is­su­ing of ar­rest war­rants. That is the man­date of stake­hold­ers such as the po­lice to make ar­rests upon the sub­mis­sion of re­ports to our of­fice be­fore be­ing handed over to the po­lice,” he said.

He, how­ever, pro­fessed ig­no­rance of the ac­tiv­i­ties that are threat­en­ing the tarred road and its en­vi­rons adding that his of­fice had not yet re­ceived such re­ports.

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