Concerns grow over Hwange pollution

Zimbabwe Power Company's ongoing unit 7

The government has been challenged to invest more in clean energy to curb environmental damage during coal mining in Matabeleland North’s Hwange district.

Residents in Hwange urban have expressed health concerns over escalating pollution due to the Zimbabwe Power Company's ongoing unit 7 and 8 expansion project.

The project officially started in October last year and is being funded to the tune of US$48,1 million from a line of credit extended by India to Zimbabwe.

More than 400 Ingagula residents in Hwange were promised relocation to the Empumalanga suburb before the operationalisation of Hwange Power Station's Units 7 and 8.

In May 2021, ZPC said it required about US$60 million to relocate more than 400 families from the suburb near Hwange Thermal Power Station.

Residents have been calling for their speedy relocation saying their health was at risk due to pollution arising from coal-mining activities in the area.

Greater Hwange Residents Trust coordinator Fidelis Chima urged authorities to invest in clean energy projects to save the environment and protect residents from other health hazards.

"We are witnessing the easing of load shedding and government attributes that to Hwange thermal power station expansion project Unit 7 and 8,” Chima said.

“However, the challenge is that most poor people in Hwange, especially rural people, have no access to electricity, community members are contracting coal-related ailments due to activities at the thermal power station.

"As an organisation, we call upon the government to seriously invest in renewable energy sources such as solar so as to avoid damage to the environment and human beings."

Last week the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) said it had engaged ZPC over dust pollution at the Hwange Power Station expansion project.

This followed repeated concerns by Ingagula suburb residents in Hwange who felt trapped.

Matabeleland North EMA provincial manager Chipo Mpofu-Zuze, said the agency was aware of the concerns raised by the Ingagula community.

“The agency has been engaging ZPC to ensure that they install pollution abatement measures in the new power plant,” she said.

“As a result, the new power plant has installed air pollution measures to mitigate against air pollution.”

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