Pollution of the Kafue river by the giant mining firm KCM goes on unabated. In recent weeks, there has been an upsurge of toxic wastes spilling into the waterways.
Fish and marine animals are dying and can be seen floating on water. Some euphoric scores of villagers can be seen scooping dead fish for consumption and selling to unsuspecting buyers. The water appear brownish, has a pungent smell and is irritating to the skin.
KCM has a smelter at the Nchanga mine and uses acid to purify the copper ore. The poisonous by-products of this complex process are regularly discarded into the Mushishima river which is a tributary of the Kafue river. Villagers and farmers dotted along these two rivers are wholly dependent on these water bodies for their livelihood. All these people together with the domestic and wild animals are frequently exposed to the harmful wastes which obviously have adverse effects on health both in the short and long term.
I strongly urge the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), the Department of Safety in the Ministry of Mines, the Chingola Municipal Council and other relevant authorities to effectively enforce applicable laws that govern appropriate mining procedures and tame KCM to fully comply with stipulated regulations.
The banks of the river Kafue is now clogged with silt from the smelter and this has transformed the flora and negatively impacted on the fauna of this environment. It is worrisome that if the current trend continues, a repeat of the infamous 2006 catastrophic poisoning of the Kafue is imminent.
It is morally evil and very disturbing for KCM to uphold this destructive tendency of the environment with impunity and disdain. The mining firm has no regard or remorse for the lives of the poor indigenous inhabitants that are perpetually poisoned leaving them weak and distraught. Its main focus is to simply extract copper and boost profits whilst leaving a trail of colossal environmental destruction. By any measure, KCM is surely abrogating some laws of Zambia and deserves retribution.
By N. Chanda (Kafue Hippo Pool- Chingola).