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Kwekwe is in danger of collapsing

A recent government survey conducted by the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) reveals the risk of collapse Kwekwe faces due to a network of illegal mining tunnels. These tunnels, which extend up to 1.5 kilometers beneath the city’s central business district and residential areas, threaten the safety of residents by compromising the integrity of the land and building structures.

The investigation used high-tech geospatial mapping techniques, uncovering an extensive network of illegal mining tunnels ranging from 40 meters to around 1.5 kilometers deep. These illegal excavations undermine the stability of the land and the buildings erected above it, creating an immediate danger to the community.

An alarming aspect highlighted in the report is the dangerous practice of illegal miners targeting support pillars in these tunnels. By endangering these structural elements, miners increase the risk of the tunnel collapsing, endangering not only their own lives, but also the lives of residents living above.

Furthermore, the report details the numerous dangers that these illegal mining tunnels pose to the city’s infrastructure and environment. Sinkholes, caused by the collapse of underground cavities, have become a major problem and several incidents have already been recorded. In addition, ground vibrations due to blasting activities in the tunnels contribute to structural damage and further instability.

The urgency of the situation was underlined by a tragic incident in March last year when a classroom at Globe and Phoenix Primary School collapsed into a sinkhole, injuring seven students. This event is a stark reminder of the immediate threat posed by the illegal mining activities that Kwekwe faces.

Seven pupils were injured at Globe and Phoenix Primary School after a classroom collapsed into a mine shaft

The problem is exacerbated by the apparent negligence of authorities, including the police, who are accused of turning a blind eye to these illegal activities in exchange for bribes. Such corruption not only facilitates the continuation of illegal mining, but also exacerbates the risks faced by the community.

Urgent action is required in response to the imminent danger posed by illegal mining tunnels. Authorities should prioritize enforcement of laws and regulations related to mining activities to prevent illegal excavations and ensure the safety of residents. In addition, efforts should be made to rehabilitate the affected areas and provide support to those affected by the mining-related hazards.

As Kwekwe grapples with the looming threat of tunnel collapse and its devastating consequences, joint efforts from both government and community stakeholders are essential to protect lives and maintain the integrity of the city’s infrastructure. If this problem is not addressed quickly, it could lead to further tragedies and irreversible damage to the community and its environment.