Minister orders brick-moulding company to cease operations

Prisca Mupfumira
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Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira has ordered a Dzivaresekwa-based brick manufacturing company Tiger Bricks to stop operating and start working on reclaiming all its disused pits and fencing off the active areas.

The directive, which will be enforced by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), follows the drowning of Tinashe Mlambo (16) in one of the open pits while swimming with friends.

Speaking during a tour of Tiger Bricks (Pvt) Ltd located at Rainharm Farm in Mount Hampden, Minister Mupfumira said the company has been breaching Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 (Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecosystems Protection Regulations).

The law states that commercial sand and clay excavations are done after the issuance of a licence by EMA, in consultation with the local authority.

“In the plan, the operator highlights the mitigating measures they will put in place for public safety and to ensure that their activities will cause minimum damage to the environment and economically viable and socially acceptable manner. Such measures include fencing off areas with open pits and reclaiming all disused pits for proper rehabilitation of degraded sites.

“Tiger bricks is holder of an excavation licence, implying they should have an excavation and rehabilitation plan.

“It is unfortunate they were not judicious in adhering to their plan on this particular incident resulting in the boys accessing the pits,” said Minister Mupfumira.

She said all brick moulding companies and operators in Rainham area have been issued with a 48-hour deadline from October 16, 2018 to submit short term action plans to rehabilitate the affected area and an inspection is to be done to see if they adhere to their plans.

“All companies concerned were told to start rehabilitation work immediately and an inspection is to be done on Tuesday October 23, 2018,” said Mupfumira.

Speaking at the same occasion, Tiger Bricks environment officer Mr Silas Kambanje expressed the company’s deep condolences to the Mlambo family and said it was going to place security around the area while it fills up the open pits.

“The pits are going to be filled up within two weeks. We are going to continuously level the area,” said Mr Kambanje.

He said they had also contributed $6 000 to the deceased family to help with funeral arrangements.

EMA’s environmental management services director Mr Steady Kangata said the agency is going to enforce the law and impose stiffer penalties on companies breaching the law.

“As EMA we are very sad over the incident that happen here. Each time we look at the environment, it is supposed to give life and at no one point should it take away life.

“We want to urge all companies in the brick moulding companies and mining sector to abide by the provisions of Environmental Management Act,” said Mr Kangata.