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Bulawayo council sued over air pollution

THE Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has taken Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to court for failing to properly manage its sanitary landfill site popularly known as Ngozi Mine in Richmond suburb resulting in air pollution affecting residents.

The hazardous smoke coming from the landfill is encroaching the nearby Cowdray, Richmond and Norwood suburbs thereby putting residents’ lives at risk.

EMA said at one time in May this year, about six hectares of the landfill was on fire for 15 consecutive days. Plumes of smoke stretching more than a radius of 10km were recorded with several residents complaining of major respiratory health effects after smoke inhalation.

Last month Cowdray Park residents petitioned BCC to address the landfill air pollution, saying the hazardous smoke wafting into their houses was putting their lives in danger.

The residents complained that due to the smoke from the landfill, they were developing respiratory diseases.

Recent studies have shown that air pollution is linked to childhood cancers and cognitive impairment in both children and adults.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), up to 14 percent of all children aged five to 18 have asthma and every year, more than 500 000 children younger than five years die from respiratory diseases linked to air pollution.

It may also affect foetal brain growth and prolonged exposure to air pollution can also lead to heart and lung-related illnesses.

EMA wants the court to direct council to take necessary measures to properly manage the Ngozi Mine landfill waste disposal site by implementing proper fire prevention measures.

The failure by council to properly manage the landfill has resulted in repeated incidents of uncontrolled burning of waste material leading to air pollution within the three affected suburbs. Thick plumes of smoke billowing from the sprawling landfill site are a daily sight.

EMA, through its lawyers, Dube, Manikai and Hwacha Legal Practitioners, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court citing BCC and] Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube as respondents.

The agency is seeking a mandatory interdict directing BCC to come up with a waste management plan in terms of the Environmental Management Act.

In his founding affidavit, EMA’s director for environmental management services, Mr Steady Kangata said BCC’s failure to take measures to manage the landfill is in violation of the Ema Act and regulations related to air pollution and the Constitution.

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