Poor workmanship by a construction firm contracted by Zvimba Rural District Council to tar three kilometres of road at Murombedzi Growth Point has led to the washing away of the prime tar from the road surface, thereby endangering plants, livestock, soil quality and aquatic life.
Heavy rains that fell last week, soon after the prime tar was applied on the road surface by Exodus Private Limited Company, washed away the black viscous mixture, a development that could prejudice the rural district council, but whose impact might be felt by ratepayers in terms of service delivery.
Although no figures of the prejudice could be immediately established, civil engineering experts estimated the loss hovered around $500 000, but the downstream damage could run into millions considering possible effects on livestock, plants, soil quality and aquatic life.
The Environmental Management Agency has since launched an investigation on the possible effect on environment and the agency estimated that more than 3 000 litres of prime tar could have spilled out, but the figure could be higher.
In an interview at Murombedzi Growth Point, EMA spokesperson Mr Steady Kangata said they had since launched a full investigation on the possible effects on the environment. A visit to the growth point showed that the affected vegetation had turned dark owing to the spillage, while the road surface had retained gravel as if no prime tar had been applied.
“There was accidental spillage of bitumen during construction of roads here at Murombedzi Growth Point,” said Mr Kangata. “Evidently, you would find bitumen on vegetation.
“Prime tar does not support plant growth and the manifestation will come out later on where we will have plants wilting and biodiversity will also be disturbed.
“It is quite unfortunate and again when this bitumen gets into water-bodies, it also affects aquatic life.
“As EMA, we urge all those in the construction industry or any other form of development to ensure that they put in place environment impact assessment plans so that they rectify or clean up the environment, in the event that such an accidental spillage occurs.”
Mr Kangata said environmental impact assessment plan was important as it brings on board certain unforeseen impact.
“So, the environment is key among other considerations such as economic and social considerations,” he said.
“As EMA, we have taken necessary steps, we have taken soil samples for testing and we wait for the results.
“In the interim, we did take necessary measures so that the environment returns to its near perfect state.”
Mr Kangata said livestock risked being adversely affected as well.
“Definitely, if the water bodies are contaminated, you will find that livestock, by virtue of partaking water, they are also compromised. So it is also an issue provided for in the law that communities, if we get results, they are entitled to compensation,” he said.
Zvimba RDC Engineer Tapiwa Nhema declined to comment, referring questions to his superiors.
According to an EMA preliminary report gleaned by The Herald, an estimated 3 000 litres of prime tar was washed away and its traces were found on grass along road shoulders while some oil entered into the veld.