Green Party President Peter Sinkamba says the looming disaster in Chamboli Township where thousands of youth risk losing their lives for mining in a caved area is entirely a responsibility of the Zambia Government.
And Mr. Sinkamba has implored Government to take urgent measures through the Zambia Mining and Environment Remediation and Improvement Project (ZMERIP), which is funded by the World Bank, to avert a national disaster at Chamboli.
Mr. Sinkamba said the sinkhole in Chamboli where youths are scavenging copper ores is a historical liability which has been a source of safety concern from the 1980s.
“When ZCCM used to run the mines on the Copperbelt caving in that area was a problem and I have got correspondence to this effect. Some houses were demolished and tenant were moved to safe areas. At the time, the houses were cracking and showing signs of potential sinking. That was the main concern.
“So before the advent of scavenging copper ores, the initial safety concern from the 1980s up to 2016 was the cracking of houses due to subsidence. Now, with ongoing scavenging activities, the danger is eminent.
“In 2005, I raised the issue of subsidence in Chamboli concerning houses in “J” Section where more than 300 houses were affected. At the time, the World Bank was funding the Copperbelt Environment Project (CEP) to mitigate historical liabilities of Government and ZCCM. However, there was disagreement between ZCCM-IH and Mopani on the responsibility for the relocation of the affected households. It was mutually agreed that an independent geotechnical engineer is engaged to establish whether the safety of the houses in that area was a historical liability for Government and ZCCM-IH or a Mopani liability. Nothing was done to appoint a geotechnical engineer until the CEP project ended in 2010,” Mr. Sinkamba said.
“In 2011, during the tenure of Obi Ezekwesili as World Bank Vice-President for the Africa Region, I lobbied in Washington for phase 2 of CEP. With the support of other World Bank staff such as Idah Pwarayi Riddihough, Gotthard Walser, Chris Sheldon, Kapil Kapoor and Heither Worley I got the extension granted such that by 2015, US$50million was approved and disbursed for the ZMERIP project.
“So, I know for a fact that funds are there to address the looming disaster in Chamboli if only government can be proactive and caring for their lives of those youths. There is more than US$50 million to address both environmental and social challenges in that area. Put simply, the whole problem in Chamboli rests squarely on Government’s shoulders, and Government should take urgent steps now,” Mr. Sinkamba added.