Walter Nyamukondiwa Mashonaland West Bureau
The Environmental Management Agency has taken Chinhoyi Municipality to court for discharging raw sewage into Manyame River, threatening the health of people downstream.
Several dockets have been opened and are set to be heard soon at the Chinhoyi Magistrates’ Court.
EMA Mashonaland West provincial spokesperson Mr Munyaradzi Nhariswa said Chinhoyi has been fined for continued violations of the environment.
“Raw sewage continues to be channelled into Manyame River without any remedial action being taken,” said Mr Nhariswa. “As such, we have taken Chinhoyi Municipality to court over the violations. The matters are still to be finalised.”
Investigations have also shown that the sewage is being channelled into Manyame River behind Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital.
There are fears that the raw sewage will breed water-borne diseases endangering the lives of people downstream who rely on water from the river for household use and watering their livestock.
Mr Nhariswa said that this was serious given the outbreak of diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
“The unmitigated flow of raw sewage is a cause for concern given (the recent)cholera and typhoid outbreaks in the country,” he said. “Every step should be taken to ensure there is no possibility of spreading the water-borne diseases.”
Chinhoyi is reportedly discharging at least 18 megalitres of raw effluent into Hunyani River every day.
The effluent includes raw sewage and chemical waste from Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital.
None of the sewage treatment plants and pump stations are working, prompting the municipality to discharge all 18 megalitres of waste generated in the town everyday into Manyame River.
Sewage treatment plants and pump stations at Hunyani, Mpata and Fernlea are dysfunctional.
Chinhoyi is home to nearly 100 000 people, while thousands live downstream of Manyame River and use the water directly for drinking, cooking and bathing. Animals also drink from the river.
Punitive measures such as fines and summons to appear before the EMA board have not yielded positive results.
Two dockets are pending at the courts where EMA has dragged the municipality because of multiple infringements in waste disposal without taking remedial action.
Chinhoyi is being charged with contravening Section 57 (1) of the EMA Act 20:27 which prohibits discharge or application of pollutants into an aquatic environment.