Bulawayo residents have been urged to work together with the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in exposing illegal sand poachers and identifying disused pits in residential suburbs so as to prevent catastrophic incidents and deaths.
This month, three lives were lost in Bulawayo’s Pumula North suburb after two unfortunate incidents of drowning. During the rainy season, the pits which are a result of illegal sand poaching, pose significant danger to children.
Speaking during a virtual meeting facilitated by Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD), Bulawayo Ward 10 Councilor Sinikiwe Mutanda highlighted the need for collaborative action citing that residents should report illegal activities and disused pits so that the local authority can conceal the pits in a timely manner.
“Residents should assist Council in identifying disused pits that are usually dug by community members especially for usage as deep wells for watering community gardens. It is also important for council to carry out awareness campaigns that will teach residents how to safeguard the environment,” said Councilor Mutanda.
The Director of Town Planning, Wisdom Siziba and the Senior Parks Officer at BCC Sobhuku Dube, echoed Councilor Mutanda’s sentiments citing that residents ought to aid in the process of identifying disused pits that are not known by Council.
“Council is making deliberate efforts aimed at raising awareness to communities on preserving the environment which is why there are Land Inspectorates also known as Rangers who are meant to safeguard the environment. Community members should play a key role as whistle blowers, sharing information on those that practice illegal sand poaching,” said Dube
Dube highlighted that sand seekers should dig at legal sand sites which include St Mary’s along Khami Ruins Road and in Luveve suburb along Luveve Cemetery.
Representing residents, Ntombizodwa Zana who is the Resident’s Chairperson for Pumula said “It is impossible to monitor young people all the time and this is why they are falling into these pits as they are adventurous. Awareness campaigns ought to be done so as to dissuade young people from swimming in these murky pits which are a threat to their lives. The Local Authority should conceal these pits of death,” said Zana.
Thumamina Khumalo who is the Assistant Director of Housing and Community Services at BCC added that youths should utilize recreational areas such as vocational centres, home craft centres, libraries and community swimming pools. She however highlighted that due to COVID-19, these recreational centres are currently closed.
Speaking during the virtual dialogue, Nesisa Mpofu, the Corporate Communications Manager at BCC noted that to solve this emerging challenge, there is need to relook at ways of improving environmental stewardship whether as a community or as a Council.
“There is need to come up with long lasting solutions which is why Council is already on the ground to redress the situation,” said Mpofu
Assistant Director of Engineering Services and Roads, Methusi Dibidi, said since Monday, 22 February 2021, Council deployed a bulldozer and an excavator which have been on site to conceal pits estimated to be five meters deep.
“We firstly excavated a trench so that we can drain water from those pits to a certain level before filling the pits with rocks and soil. However, because the area is swampy, it is difficult to manouvre. The other challenge we are facing is that Pumula, Council currently relies on one front end loader that will transport heaps of material from Masiyephambili”
Member of Parliament for Pumula Constituency, Honourable Sichelesile Mahlangu applauded Council for efforts towards concealing the disused pits in Pumula.
Hotline numbers that can be used to report sand poachers were shared with those who were present for the virtual dialogue.
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