Members of a community, in the western part of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, are distressed by the continuous noise, air and water pollution allegedly being caused by some named mining companies, engaged in stone quarrying businesses in their area.
Lwendo Momba, one of the residents in the area, called ‘Maloni’, laments that the blasts have become louder and cause tremours that shake and crack some houses, resulting in them having sleepless nights.
He adds that the natural springs that the community depends on, for irrigation of their crops and to maintain their fish farms are also drying out.
That is due to the shifting of the water table, which is also said to have been contaminated and resulted into an outbreak of Cholera, not long ago.
“These mines have been here for some years now, but recently, their operations have increased and are moving closer to our yards.
As a result, we are beginning to feel the effect of their blasting,” Momba points out.
With the increased dust being produced from the explosions and drilling, they now fear, they are at a risk of contracting more respiratory illnesses, such as Tuberculosis and others.
Pollution of water bodies
“When they start their blasting, you can see the pollution. The dust rises and covers the air,” observes Iris Mizinga, another resident.
Her sister, Michelo further narrates that some of the community members have also had conversations with concerned departments, but that has not yielded any results.
In the past, when residents attempted to engage the mining companies in question, about these concerns, they got threatened, which cowers them into staying away, even when things become worse.
The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), which is an environmental regulator, mandated to ensure sustainable management of natural resources, protection of the environment and prevent and control pollution were served with a complaint, over a month and a half ago, by the residents, but is yet to give feedback.
“We went to the ZEMA and they advised us to make a complaint, after which they would investigate the matter, but upto now, we are still waiting,” Momba claims.
Efforts were made by this authour, in person and by phone, to get an interview and copies of the the details and Environmental Impact Assessment provided by the companies operating in Maloni, but the organisation’s spokesperson was not available.
Further attempts, including an email and a press query received no response.
Under the Mines and Minerals Development Act No 11 of 2015, of the Laws of Zambia, mine owners and operators have an obligation to adhere to health and safety regulations, failure to do that can attract penalties, suspension or closure of the mine.
“A holder [ of the mine] shall be strictly liable for any harm or damage caused by mining operations or mineral processing operations and shall compensate any person to whom the harm or damage is caused, ” reads the Act, in part.