Bulawayo quarry endangers schools, houses

Pumula North residents are accusing Haulin Quarry Mining Company of contaminating the environment and damaging their homes, which are developing cracks due to blasting activities at the quarry

A mother of five Methembe Ndlovu from Pumula North suburb in Bulawayo is a concerned woman.

Three of her kids attend Amaswazi Primary School, a government-run institution while her elder daughters attend school at Pumula High, a few hundred meters apart.

As she enjoys her morning tea, she almost spills the cup as a tremor like a huge blast occurs.

“This is the life that we have to endure on a daily basis,” Ndlovu told this reporter as the windows and walls vibrated because of the huge mine blast.

“I always try to imagine how my children are coping during lessons because the noise from that quarry mining company is so discomforting and disturbing.”

Haulin Quarry Mining Company was given the nod to set up a quarry mine by the Bulawayo City Council in 2021.

The company is conducting quarry mining behind Pumula High in the area but the majority of residents have been against the venture.

The residents are accusing the miner of contaminating the environment and damaging their houses, which are developing cracks due to blasting activities at the quarry.

“The blasting occurs at any time, and is always scary. This is affecting the learning of our kids.

“We wish that the ministry intervenes in this case,” Ndlovu said.

At Amaswazi Primary School, a surrounding wall fell recently due to vibrations from the mining operations.

Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) coordinator Khumbulan Maphosa said mining activities are threatening the learning and lives of the school pupils.

“The mine is located a few metres away from Pumula High School,” Maphosa.

“The heavy blasting might lead to the collapse of the school and sometimes releases small stones into the air which puts the lives of children at risk.”

Contacted for comment school heads for Pumula high School and Maswazi Primary School could not comment on the matter citing protocols.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said he was attending a meeting when contacted for comment.

Ndoro demanded questions in writing, but did not respond to any at the time of going to print.

  Environmental Management Authority (EMA) education and publicity officer Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Memory Kapumha said her office had received complaints from residents about the mining operations.

“A point to note for the public is the Environmental Impact Assessment certificate for Hualin Quarry Mine has not yet been renewed pending investigations of the issues raised by residents,” Kapumha said.   

She said the agency was consulting all relevant stakeholders over the matter.

“Blasting is the responsibility of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and hence they are the major stakeholder in the engagement process,” she said.

“We are awaiting their feedback on the status of blasting and its effects on the surroundings of the mine.”

 Management at the mine could not be reached for comment.

Residents in Pumula once considered taking up legal action against the miner and petitioned Parliament to stop the company from setting up a quarry plant in the residential suburb.

 Research conducted by Peter Nkala in 2022, the dean of commerce at the National University of Science and Technology, revealed that there is a lot of controversy over the company’s mining operations.

 Nkala said the mining activities had adverse environmental and health effects on nearby communities with some houses now developing cracks from blasting operations.

"The dust from the quarry is polluting the air and also affects flora and concerns are that the company fails to plough back to the community," Nkala said.

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