Public health Inspectors have suspended operations and mining activities at Sezic Resources Company Limited due to non-compliance with the occupational health and safety measures.
This came to light yesterday when the public health Inspectors from Ministry of Health and the Council led by acting District Director of Health, Terrence Chookwe carried out a routine inspection to ascertain whether the company was complying with the requirements of the occupational health and safety act in Sinazongwe district.
The Health Inspectors found that workers at the mine were working without wearing complete personal protective equipment such as work suits, safety shoes, gloves, respirators among them.
It was further discovered that the company has not employed a safety officer and environmental officer to help ensure safety and environmental standards are followed.
Speaking after the inspection of the mine, Sinazongwe Health Promotions Officer Owen Malao suspended the mines’ operations indefinitely until the company meet the safety requirements.
“The decision by health Inspectors to suspend operations and mining activities at Sezic Resources Company Limited is due to findings after inspection such as lack of toilets, safe clean drinking water for employees, no personal protective equipment provided and non-implementation of environmental measures to avert the negative impacts of mining activities in the mine and surrounding villages”, he said.
He said the suspension of the mine is in accordance with the laws of the country under occupational health and safety Act.
Mr Malao said further inspection will be conducted to check if the company will follow all the safety and environmental requirements, upon which the company can resume operations.
And one of the employees who spoke to ZANIS said the company pays them K25 per day and are subjected to work without getting leave or observing public holidays.
Mr Kallen Sikaonga narrated that workers are given K6 for lunch and if an employee misses work for a day, they are fired instantly.
“The company is not implementing the minimum wage Statutory Instrument and other labour laws hence subjecting workers to harsh conditions” he said.
And Chipo Munkombwe an employee of the mine said in an interview that they were paid their money on the table instead of using bank accounts which results in non-contribution to the National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA).
“We fear for our lives because we are not even contributing to NAPSA and our conditions of work are very poor,” he said.
Mr Munkombwe disclosed that every time authorities such as Public Health Inspectors and other relevant authorities visit the mine site, workers are told to hide or sent home to prevent them from interacting with authorities.
He said this had disadvantaged them because they have not had a chance to report their work conditions.
“We have no Union representation and therefore we are appealing to relevant authorities to come to our aid, authorities such as labour office, occupation health and safety institute, Public Health Inspectors and others to help us so that our health and lives of our families could be protected,” he said.
Meanwhile efforts to get a comment from Sezic Resources Company Limited Manager proved futile as he was reported out of the site.