Gravel mining wreaks havoc

HARARE - Gravel mining is turning some of Harare’s areas into an eyesore.

While the gravel goes into constructing of state-of-the-art buildings such as the Chinese-built mall in Warren Park, residents are left to dig their own way out the holes left behind.

Mereki Shopping Centre (Mereki) is one of Zimbabwe’s most popular braai spots.

But motorists are thinking twice before venturing there as roads have become disastrous owing to gravel miningoccuring nearby.

The beleaguered shopping centre in Warren Park D was apparently set for a major face-lift with help from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority after plans were mooted to turn it into a tourism destination.

That has all turned into dust.

What used to be a favoured road to the popular “gochi gochi” place has now become bumpy and potholed — thanks to the City of Harare and the Chinese developers constructing a mall and hotel at a wetland nearby.

The local authority and land developers are mining gravel at Warren Hills, and this has affected more than the roads as even the dust is finding its way to meat on braai stands at Mereki.

Moreover, Warren Park D residents have lamented the effects of the gravel mining saying their roads and environment have been destroyed by the activity.

However, the responsible authorities, Harare city council and the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) seem to be oblivious to the damage and are yet to take tangible action to rectify the situation.

Residents say they have not benefited from the mining activity and feel shortchanged.

“The heavy duty lorries that are used to transport the gravel from the hills are also to blame for the potholes,” said Norman Muvavarirwa, a resident.

“Throughout the windy season, dust from the operations finds place in our homes and this has brought fear of diseases and environment pollution. During this rain season accelerated sheet erosion takes place,” he said.

Ironically, the city council says the gravel is being used to repair roads yet residents say the trucks are causing more damage to the roads ostensibly supposed to be repaired by the same gravel.

City of Harare environmental management committee chairperson Stewart Mtizwa said council will carry out an assessment to determine how best the situation can be solved.

“I will visit there and assess the situation to see how best we can attend to it,” he told the Daily News on Sunday.

Though the city council and Ema say the soil is being used for roads, loaded trucks have been observed going in and out of the Chinese hotel and mall being constructed on a nearby wetland between the National Sports Stadium and Belvedere suburb.

Responding to that Mtizwa said: “As council we have people paying us to get that gravel because it is an area designated for gravel mining,” he said, adding he was unsure if the Chinese were part of such customers.

Ema spokesperson Steady Kangata said his organisation, which is charged with enforcing environment rules, had started engaging council on soil rehabilitation on the area. - Bridget Mananavire

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