Gold diggers damage railway lines

As a result of the decline in agricultural and manufacturing activity, coupled with reported corruption and mismanagement of the National Railways of Zimbabwe, goods transported using the railway system countrywide shrunk to two million tonnes in 2010 from 18 million tonnes in 1998.


THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has expressed concern over a surge in illegal mining activities along railway tracks throughout the country saying the activities were now posing a serious risk to rail traffic.

NRZ acting public relations manager Martin Banda told Southern Eye yesterday that over 24 dams have been created by illegal artisanal miners along railway tracks.

These have become death traps and cost NRZ millions of dollars to repair and replace damaged infrastructure, he said.

“Railway reserve land throughout the country is under threat from illegal artisanal miners who are mining gold and chrome ore close to railway lines and in some areas they are digging to the detriment of track stability,” Banda said.

“Digging trenches close to the railway line poses a risk to the travelling public and there is a risk of the railway collapsing. Over 24 dams have been created by these illegal artisanal miners who are digging into railway formation at times using heavy earth-moving equipment found within the mining vicinity.”

He said the most affected areas were Hambakwe, Chomumvuri and Adams near Zvishavane.

Railway tracks have also been damaged in Jumbo, Tatagura in Mazowe, Bindura, Shurugwi, Shamva, Ngezi River, Redfield and in Chiwundura.

“The railway reserve land is a strip of 45m wide either side of the track on all main lines. The public must respect this strip of land and stop any farming and mining activities along the railway reserve as it is a violation of the Railway Act,” he said.

Banda said  they had started awareness campaigns to fight the illegal mining activities, adding that they had a whistleblower’s fund which rewarded people who help protect railway infrastructure.

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