THE Local Government ministry, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) and other government departments have been taken to court by Mpopoma and Matshobana residents for failing to stop a granite mining company’s blasting operations they argue were ruining their houses and endangering their lives.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Davis Granite Company, the largest supplier of granite aggregates in Zimbabwe, carries out its operations along Khami Road, a few kilometres from Mpopoma suburb and residents say they feared the possibility of their houses collapsing because whenever there was a blast at the quarry, their houses vibrated.
The residents under the banner of the Mpopoma-Matshobana Residents’ Association, also argued the mining operations were endangering their lives as dust particles from the blasting activities exposed them to silicosis and other related diseases.
The association last year forced the government to institute a probe into the granite blasting operations, but findings have not been made public, angering residents and forcing them to approach the courts.
“The mining company through its chief executive Ken Jerrad defended its operations and said their blast occurred from about 86 metres underground and therefore cannot cause vibrations which are destroying properties in Mpopoma, Matshobana,Tshabalala and Iminyela among other residential areas,” the chairperson of the residents’ association Sindeni Mhlanga said in his founding affidavit, according to High Court papers filed on Tuesday by their lawyers.
“However, he advised that we should go and look for engineers to come and inspect our buildings and if there is any evidence to prove that their operations are causing cracks on our buildings they will compensate.”
In the application, the residents through Dumisani Dube of Mathonsi Ncube law chambers, provincial administrator Khonzani Ncube, the Civil Protection Unit, Environmental Management Agency, BCC and the Local Government ministry are cited as respondents respectively.
Mhlanga said they approached BCC, the Local Government ministry among other government departments over the matter resulting in the ministry instituting a probe in September 2016.
“To our shock, anger and surprise the respondents have jointly refused, denied and neglected to make public or furnish us with the report of their probe which was instigated at our requests. In fact, we are being sent from pillar to post …”
The Affirmative Action Group last year also waded into the issue, engaging BCC and Environmental Management Agency following complaints by residents over the granite mining company’s blasting operations.