RESIDENTS of Ingagula suburb in Hwange, Matabeleland North, say they feel trapped after their relocation from the coal mining zone has been stalled indefinitely. They said their living conditions continue to deteriorate due to health hazards caused by the ongoing work on Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC)’s Hwange Power Station Units 7 and 8 and the Deka Pipeline Upgrade projects.
ZPC last month said it was putting final touches on Hwange Power Station Units 7 and 8 and the Deka Pipeline Upgrade projects. The project officially started in October last year. It is being funded to the tune of US$48,1m from a line of credit extended by India to Zimbabwe.
More than 400 Ingagula residents in Hwange were promised relocation to the Empumalanga suburb before the operationalisation of Hwange Power Station’s Units 7 and 8. ZPC in May 2021 said it required about US$60 million to relocate more than 400 families from the suburb near Hwange Thermal Power Station.
However, residents are complaining that the delay is exposing them to dangerous emissions. The suburb has been in existence for decades with residents enduring air pollution. Hwange workers committee chairperson Xolani Nyoni last week said it appeared the relocation of residents had stalled.
“The relocation project has since been stalled and people are now living in a mine set up where they are surrounded by coal mines,” he said.
“Trucks rumble throughout night and day lifting coal dust and causing noise pollution. The roads are damaged and our water and food gets contaminated even during cooking. When you wash clothes they turn black while on the washing line due to coal dust.”
He said no action was being taken to relocate them.
“We do not know who is funding the relocation but the issue is the delays are not doing us good. This place is no longer habitable and many people will die if action is delayed,” he said.
Greater Hwange Residents Trust chairperson Fidelis Chima said they were disappointed that Ingagula residents were supposed to be relocated before the expansion project was commissioned.
“Residents have a right to stay in a clean and safe environment as provided for by the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Their continued exposure to coal emissions from the thermal power plants, coal haulage trucks, ash dams and surrounding coke plants is exposing them to coal-related ailments such as asthma and pneumoconiosis,” he said.
ZPC recently said the construction of homes under the Relocation Action Plan (RAP) was progressing well with most structures now at roof level.
“ZPC has completed construction of 17 homes for the second group of 72 households that had to be moved to make place for the 335-kilometre Hwange-Insukamini transmission line. The 17 houses are ready for handover. The first lot of 12 houses was handed over in February 2022,” ZPC said.
ZPC on Tuesday last week said the Hwange Units 7 and 8 project was 99% complete, while, Deka Upgrade project was at 91%.
On the Deka project, ZPC said the first 21km of the 42km pipeline was commissioned on March 19, 2023 and officially handed over on March 27. The rest of the pipeline is scheduled for the second quarter and the remaining works are set to be completed in March next year.
The 42km pipeline project that connects Deka High Lift Pump Station to Hwange Power Station is critical to enhanced operationalisation of the Hwange Thermal Power Station, which is being boosted with 600MW capacity.
The scope of the project also includes the refurbishment of Hwange Water Treatment Plant and provision of three tap-off points for supply of raw water to the Deka community.
Source Southern eye
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