Hwange — Villagers in Makwa, Hwange East Constituency are fuming over the destruction of Deka Road by Chinese-owned mining companies operating in the area.
Land degradation as well as water and air pollution have become perennial challenges for Hwange as the Chinese mining companies destroy roads and discharge effluent into rivers without any action being taken by government or local authority.
Deka Road links Hwange Town to the Zambezi River and connects to Victoria Falls via Jambezi and also proceeds to Binga along the Zambezi River.
It also passes through Chief Whange’s homestead.
Previously, villagers in Mwemba, Makwa, Mashala and Deka complained about the death of their cattle and goats while there was also an outcry a year ago following massive death of fish along the Deka river. This was condemned by Chief Whange.
The Greater Hwange Residents Trust has also sought legal recourse and have approached the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) who are still investigating the pollution of the river.
A villager, Fortune Mwembe said Deka Road was now a death trap because of its bad state.
“Villagers from Mashala and Simangani wards depend on the road and soon will be weaned off the whole district because soon the road will become totally unsafe to use. The road is now dangerous and might cause accidents,” he said.
One of the village heads Rosemary Shoko said the community is worried at the rate at which roads in the area are being destroyed.
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“The road was destroyed by mining companies that operate in the area. What worries people is that our resources are being destroyed yet only less than 10 percent of locals are employed by those companies. They are causing pollution, livestock and fish are dying on a daily basis. Soon we will be an island because of the lack of road.
“Fish is the source of employment for our people as every family has a member who does fishing along the Zambezi River and Deka. Livelihoods will be affected,” the village head said.
Villagers in Deka want the local leaders including the chief and MP to act on the issue. They have also threatened to take matters into their own hands if leaders fail to act.
Recently, a man died along Deka Road when a vehicle he was travelling in with two others hit a pothole and overturned.
Chief Whange recently said measures were being taken to engage the mining companies.
Similar concerns were raised recently in St Mary’s where villagers complained about dust caused by trucks carrying coal and quarry from a Chinese mining company.
The mining company undertook to tar the road when it applied for a permit to operate in the area five years ago but nothing has happened to date.