BULAWAYO The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has accused some city companies of discharging raw industrial waste into rivers, taking advantage of the low penalty fees charged by the agency.
Addressing members of the Association for Business in Zimbabwe (Abuz) in Bulawayo yesterday, EMA director-general Mutsa Chasi said several companies were deliberately dumping waste into the water systems due to the low penalties for the offence.
Some industries take advantage of the low fines and dump their waste into rivers without much regard for the people who will drink that same water, she said.
EMA charges a maximum of $5 000 for environmental-related offences with the minimum being $5.
The charges are set in stages with stage one being the lowest at $5 whilst stage 14 is the highest at $5 000, stage 14 mainly penalises large companies for accidents such as oil spills and similar disasters, Chasi said.
Abuz CEO Lucky Mlilo had complained that the penalties charged by EMA were too high.
What we are arguing is that firstly the fines charged by EMA are high and secondly there are no schedules that really show us the various forms that these charges are presented in, Mlilo said.
But Chasi shot down the claim, saying: That $5 000 fine is still not enough for the damage caused by industries when you compare it to the number of people who get sick from drinking dirty water and breathing unclean air.
People should note that it is not EMA which determines these charges, it is actually the Ministry of Justice that tells us how much to charge for what.
These are the charges that are required by law, but it is unfortunate that most people do not know them, she said.