The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) are on a collision course over the authority’s decision to fine council $5 000 for polluting Umguza River.
While EMA accuses the local authority of letting companies pollute the river and putting lives of citizens in danger, BCC said that was not a priority, a position likely to trigger an outcry from residents.
EMA alleged BCC sewer pipes were disposing waste directly into Umguza River and was set to issue the local authority with a ticket for the offence. Mayor Thaba Moyo, however, hit back at EMA, arguing there were other issues taking precedence over sewer problems, “and EMA should gather funds (to rectify environmental problems) than issue us with fines.”
Yesterday, the mayor told NewsDay EMA was using its resources “recklessly” by imposing fines instead of assisting in gathering funds to rectify sewer problems.
“If they issue a fine, it would affect us because that money could have been used to rectify the problem. We work under a system of prioritising and there are other problems that take precedence over the sewer problem. We work on a priority list and the sewer problem is not at the top of the list.”
But EMA provincial environmental manager Decent Ndlovu last Thursday said the local authority was a major contributor to environmental woes in the city as sewer pipe bursts were left unattended resulting in the effluent finding its way into the city’s major water sources.
“The BCC needs to play its role and rectify the issue of broken pipes in the area surrounding the Sidojiwe flats. That place has brewery waste and blood from abattoirs. Belmont Leather has created a deliberate trench to pass their waste to that site and these need to be addressed by the local authority.
“Here in Kingsdale suburb, the pipe was deliberately broken to prevent sewer waste from being transmitted to the rehabilitation plant. What is happening now is that hazardous toxins find their way into Umguza River. This effluent goes directly into Umguza River and residents in Umguza district bear the brunt of drinking all this dirt,” he said.
Ndlovu said EMA would on Tuesday fine BCC $5 000 for effluent in Kingsdale flowing into Umguza River. Ndlovu said among major contributors of industrial effluent was the Cold Storage Company (CSC), Belmont Leather and Prestige Leather who were said to be releasing excessive and harmful industrial effluent.
Ndlovu said CSC had been fined $500 while Belmont leather had been fined $1 000.
“Prestige Leather has also been dumping goat and cattle hinds in an inappropriate way and we have given them a $500 ticket. This is so because the effluent contains chromium VI, which is very hazardous as it results in skin irritation or ulceration, occupational asthma, nasal irritation and ulceration, water borne diseases like cholera and dysentery,” he said.