Over 2,000 houses in Nkandabwe, Sinazongwe in Zambia are on the verge of collapse due to the effects of underground mining activity at Column Coal mine in the area.
According to Lusaka Times, an agreement was signed in October, 2017 in which the mine was supposed to compensate affected families to enable them relocate. But, to date, this has not been done.
Chief Sinazongwe has since expressed disappointment with Column Coal Mine, that despite various stakeholders having engaged the mine management over the agreement, the pact has not been honoured.
During the local leadership visit to the affected area, the chief said: “When the agreement was made, people agreed to move if compensated. It has been four months now and the mine has not followed the agreement,” the traditional leader said.
In the interim, affected families have appealed to government for assistance.
Catherine Siabweene, whose family is currently temporary living in a tent, explained that the underground mine tunnels left in the area were forming cracks which are extending to the surface, thereby affecting houses.
“My family had to move out of our house as we could hear the ground shake as the cracks grew bigger. The tent we are now sleeping in is uncomfortable when it rains,” she lamented.
Meanwhile, the local authority in the district has called on the mine to prioritise the safety of human lives.
Sinazongwe District Council Secretary, Herbert Ng’andu, urged management of Column to emulate Maamba Collieries’ approach to mine safety compliance.
“This is a ticking time bomb requiring urgent attention,” Ng’andu warned.
Sinazongwe District Commissioner, Protacial Mulenga, has since issued a 14-day ultimatum for the mine to compensate the affected families or risk being closed.