FIFTY people from ten households surrounding Nkandabwe collumn coal mine shaft number three in Sinazongwe District have been displaced after their houses almost collapsed and sunk due to weak pillars of tunnels that were left during mining of coal some years ago.
According to affected families spoken to in an interview,the incident occurred on Thursday eve of the new year around 22 hours when they head a tremor of the land only to realize that their houses developed major cracks as the ground was almost sinking.
A check at the site by Sinazongwe District Disaster Management and Mitigation Committee found that the piece of land on which houses belonging to affected households were built many years ago had gone down between two to three metres leaving most of the houses and several other structures like pit latrines with major crack down signs.
The District Disaster Management and Mitigation team further found that affected households had abandoned their houses which were almost collapsing and sinking together with their property including livestock and other important resources they relied on for their livelihoods.
The team found the victims squatting on a piece of land within the mine area which had no shelter for their refuge and other important requirements like toilet facilities.
Speaking on behalf of affected households,headman Siajele told the Disaster Management and Mitigation Committee that they urgently needed to be assisted with food and temporal shelter as they were sleeping in the cold since the day the incident occurred.
Headman Siajele said no death and serious casualties had been recorded except people felt traumatized and could not get back to the area to fetch their property and livestocks.
The headman has since appealed to Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit(DMMU) in the Office of the Vice President for assistance immediately for affected households in terms of food and shelter inform of tents before relocating them to an alternative piece of land.
Meanwhile,Sinazongwe District Commissioner Protacial Mulenga has assured affected households that Government through the DMMU in the Office of the Vice President was doing evrything possible to assist them.
Mr.Mulenga said when he visited the site yesterday to addressed the victims that they were going to be provided with food and tents for temporal shelter as soon as possible while the DMMU will continue with carrying out an assessment to determine the extent to which property has been damaged and the impact of the disaster on the affected households.
He said DMMU together with his Office and management of Nkandabwe Collumn Coal Mine in consultation with affected households will look into the need to find alternative piece of land where they could be relocated.
The District Commissioner called on affected households to remain calm as the matter was being resolved and treated with urgency.
And Collumn Coal Mine manager Kepson Munthali said in an interview with ZANIS in Sinazongwe yesterday that mining areas were prone to such dangers where a piece of land could collapse and sink after mining done underground.
Mr.Munthali said it was unfortunate that people had settled on that piece of land when infact should not have been allowed to settle in the mine since inception.
He suspected that no Environmental Impact Assessment might have been carried out because recommendations on areas for people to settle and build their own structures could have been made and such ocurrences could have been avoided.
Mr.Munthali disclosed the Collum Coal Mine had engaged consultants that will work with the Zambia Environmental Management Association (ZEMA)over the Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) whose recommendations shall be implemented.
He added that the curving of the piece of land where households with their property had been affected was a wake up call that called for concerted efforts from the mine management and other relevant bodies such as ZEMA,Environmental Council of Zambia(ECZ),mines safety body and the ministry of mines and devlopment to ensure that such incidences becomes history in the mining industry.