Chombo warns water polluters

HARARE - Ignatius Chombo, the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister, has warned that water polluters will face the full wrath of the law.

The minister told journalists on the sidelines of the unveiling of 20 Homelux cluster houses in Harare on Thursday that the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) would on Wednesday present him with a report on the pollution of drinking water.

Asked on what action he would take against the polluters, Chombo said, “You don’t have to ask me what action will be taken because it is obvious. Ema will deal with all those who are guilty and there is no other way,” he added.

Chombo, who is also chairperson of the inter-ministerial Cabinet committee on Water Pollution, told reporters in May that funeral parlours, service stations, fuel holding depots and food processing plants have been dumping waste in drinking water systems countrywide.

The Cabinet committee has since ordered the alleged water contaminators to immediately install waste interceptors and pre-treatment plants to curb pollution or face closure.
Chombo added that tanneries, food outlets, breweries and beverage producers, abattoirs and chemical processing plants also face a government backlash unless they conform  to the directive.

“Installation of waste interceptors and pre-treatment plants will prevent discharge of raw effluent into water bodies,” he said.

In May, Chombo issued a June 30 deadline for funeral parlours to have holding tanks installed at their premises or face closure.

However, the Funeral Services Association of Zimbabwe, which is the umbrella body for funeral parlours, has since denied that the fluids they use to embalm corpses contaminate drinking water sources. In line with the government economic blueprint the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), the Chombo-headed committee was established to probe causes of water pollution and raw sewage disposal.

The ZimAsset cluster on infrastructure and utilities stipulates that for the economy to register growth in a competitive and effective manner there is need to develop robust, elaborate and resilient infrastructure in water and sanitation.

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