MUTARE — DEEP quarry pits close to Chikanga Extension suburb pose a health hazard to hundreds of residents in the area amid fears they could become a death trap to locals.
BY FARAI MATEBVU
The pits, which now resemble small dams filled up with water, were excavated years ago by companies that were constructing roads in Mutare. But the local authority never rehabilitated the area before allocating stands to beneficiaries.
Residents said it is more than three years since residential stands in the area were commissioned but council’s promises to rehabilitate the pits have not been fulfilled.
They described the pits as death traps especially to children who pass through when going to school.
“It is quite scary and there are rumours that there are mermaids. Such places must be secured,” said one resident.
Town clerk Obert Muzavazi blamed the land developers for failing to spruce up the area.
“There is an understanding that developers must put some barricades around the pits to avoid harm on people,” he said.
Muzavazi dismissed allegations that some people have disappeared in the pits. There are also growing fears that fish from the pits pose a health hazard.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Provincial Manager Kingstones Chitotombe said the environmental watchdog expected both council and land developers to secure the pits by erecting barricades around them.
“According to the environmental impact assessment they submitted, they are supposed to erect barricades as soon as they finished servicing the stands. We will ensure they comply with their obligation,” said Chitotombe.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association Manicaland regional coordinator, Reverend Steven Maengamhuru, said any development in the community must be closely supervised and monitored to ensure that people are not prejudiced.
“One would not envision a situation where such large pits exist in a location without someone taking precautionary measures. From a human rights point of view we expect developers to immediately address this problem,” he said.
However, one of the housing developers, Destiny of Afrika Network (DAnet) refuted allegations that they are neglecting the pits.
DAnet founder Reverend Obadiah Musindo said the organisation was still waiting for a report from EMA before further any development of the area.
“We were given that piece of land just before July 31 elections and do you think we should by now have been through with everything?” he asked.
Musindo said the organisation was in the past fined US$5 000 by EMA for developing other areas before such a report was out. He said DAnet wanted to introduce fish farming and “green areas” for entertainment and weddings. DAnet which is developing thousands of residential stands in Mutare and other towns has serviced close to 300 stands in Chikanga.