Kwekwe at Risk of Collapse

April 21, 2024
kwekwe | Report Focus News
Kwekwe buildings caving in due to illegal mining underneath

A recent Government study, conducted by the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), reveals the risk of collapse facing Kwekwe due to a network of illegal mining tunnels. These tunnels, stretching up to 1.5 kilometres beneath the city’s central business district and residential areas, threaten residents’ safety by compromising ground integrity and building structures.

The study employed high-tech geospatial mapping techniques, exposing an extensive network of illegal mining tunnels ranging from 40 meters to around 1.5 kilometres in depth. These illicit excavations undermine the stability of the ground and the buildings erected above them, posing imminent danger to the community.

One alarming aspect highlighted in the report is the dangerous practice of illegal miners targeting support pillars within these tunnels. By compromising these structural elements, miners exacerbate the risk of tunnel collapse, endangering not only their own lives but also those of the residents living above.

Furthermore, the report details the numerous hazards posed by these illegal mining tunnels to the city’s infrastructure and environment. Sinkholes, caused by the collapse of underground voids, have become a significant concern, with several incidents already recorded. Additionally, ground vibrations resulting from blasting activities within the tunnels contribute to structural damage and further instability.

The urgency of the situation was underscored by a tragic incident in March last year when a classroom block at Globe and Phoenix Primary School collapsed into a sinkhole, injuring seven pupils. This event serves as a stark reminder of the immediate threat posed by the illegal mining activities plaguing Kwekwe.

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

Compounding the problem is 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.

In response to the imminent danger posed by the illegal mining tunnels, urgent action is imperative. Authorities must prioritize the enforcement of laws and regulations governing mining activities to curb illicit excavations and ensure the safety of residents. Additionally, efforts should be made to rehabilitate affected areas and provide support to those impacted by the mining-related hazards.

As Kwekwe grapples with the looming threat of tunnel collapse and its devastating consequences, concerted efforts from both governmental and community stakeholders are essential to safeguarding lives and preserving the integrity of the city’s infrastructure. Failure to address this issue promptly could lead to further tragedies and irreversible damage to the community and its environment.