- Residents say they are dying slowly
- Vegetation covered with black soot
- Black fumes getting into Galloway houses every evening
- Residents threaten to sue EMA and the Chinese company
As one approaches Manyame bridge along Harare-Bulawayo highway, smog blanketing the hazy skyline is not difficult to miss.
The evidence of pollution is unassailable. Other than the thick smoke emanating from the plant, trees around the area are covered in black soot. The vegetation bears witness as leaves are covered by a thick film of fumes changing the shades from yellow-green to pitch black.
One wonders what is actually happening to Galloway residents’ internal organs as they are hit hard on daily basis by thick fumes coming out of the Chinese tile manufacturing plant which every evening releases thick volumes of fumes into the sky blanketing the whole residential area.
“Kuno vana vatadza kurara hanzi hutsi (here the children failed to sleep saying there s too much smoke getting into the house),” complained one resident.
“Just have a look at the black soot covering the tree leaves and the grass. You can imagine the quality of air we are inhaling,” said the resident.
But has the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) been consulted before the plant was installed? Was the environmental impact assessment certificate issued? What is the long-term health impact on the residents who are ingesting the fumes on a daily basis?
Questions sent to EM were not responded to as the organisation’s public relations officer Joyce Chapungu kept saying “they were in a meeting.”
What is soot?
Soot is the common term for a type of particle pollution called PM 2.5—particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. Such fine particles are even smaller than dust and mold particles, or approximately 1/30 of the size of a human hair.
It is comprised of a variety of pollutants, including chemicals, acids, metals, soils, and dust, which are suspended in the air after emission.
Soot poses tremendous harms to public health, particularly because of its size. … Microscopic particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and have been linked to a wide range of serious health effects, including premature death, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma among children.
Emitted gasses can have adverse effects on health, particularly among people with respiratory illnesses. High levels of exposure to contaminated environments have been linked with increased respiratory problems, while long-term exposure may affect lung function and increase the response to allergens in sensitive people. The gasses also contribute to smog formation, acid rain, damage to vegetation, contribute to ground-level ozone formation and can react in the atmosphere to form fine particles.
Residents threaten a lawsuit
Galloway Residents Association is threatening a lawsuit against EMA as well as the Chinese-owned Sunny Yi Feng Tiles company.
“We are still figuring out how best we can sue the company and EMA. We took the soot for testing so we are waiting for the results,” said one of the residents.
“We know it is a delicate situation but we need a response and a solution,” said the resident.
In an interview Norton legislator Temba Mliswa said EIA was done although he doubts whether due process was followed.
“The EA was issued but you know there is too much corruption at these enterprises. I have invited the Environment minister Mangaliso Ndhlovu to tour on Wednesday,” Mliswa said.
“I took these guys to court and nothing happened up to now,” he said.