Globe and Phoenix Primary and Secondary Schools must be shut down following classroom block collapse

By William Milasi

The Centre for Natural Resources and Governance (CNRG) has raised concern over the safety of Globe and Phoenix Primary and Secondary Schools in Kwekwe following the collapse of a classroom block at the primary school due to underground mining activities at the school and the nearby mine.

The centre is calling for the shutdown of the schools over safety.

In a statement the CNRG said the injury of 18 learners at the school is not only shocking but also saddening.

CNRG whose mandate is to protect, defend and support communities affected by the negative impacts of the extractive industries said there is an urgent need for psycho-social support to all staff, pupils and families affected by the incident.

The organisation also noted that it is not only Kwekwe which is at risk of the illegal mining activities but also Kadoma.

“Mining in this region has been poorly regulated regardless of clear evidence that both legal and illegal mining activities are posing a danger to the cities of Kadoma and surrounding environs. Disused shafts and tunnels in the two cities have lately attracted an army of artisanal and small-scale miners with little knowledge of underground mining operations,” the statement read.

Accordingly, the impact of blasting is frequently felt in Kwekwe and Kadoma, often resulting in infrastructure shaking and cracking.

“At Battle Grounds Police Station in Kadoma, buildings are frequently cracking due to tremors triggered by blasting and Police officers at the station live in fear. The entire station might one day disappear into underground tunnels.

“Experts have often warned that rampant mining activities in Kwekwe and Kadoma will one day lead to a massive disaster that is very avoidable. The time to take remedial action is NOW, before the magnitude of these problems gets bigger and lives are lost,” the statement read.

GNRG said it envisioned a situation whereby, Kadoma and Kwekwe would benefiot from their natural resources endowment, without endangering human lives and built infrastructure.

The organisation said it is therefore, imperative for the government to, “immiditely halt all leanring activities at Globe and Phoenix primary and secondary schools on safety grounds,” also, “offer psycho-social support to all the staff, pupils and families affected by the Globe and Phoenxu incident.”

Additionally, GNRG recommended that the government must dispatch a team of civil and structural engineers to investigate the classroom collapse at the school and also to inspect tunnels in both Kwekwe and Kadoma.

“Make a firm decision, based on the recommendation of impartial experts, whether mining must continue beneath the cities of Kwekwe and Kadoma. Stop the culture of impunity enjoyed by artisanal,small and medium scale miners whose activities are threatening the safety of the people in the two cities,” the statement read.

CNRG explained that there is need for government to urgently convene an all stakeholders meeting to discuss the Globe and Phoenix incident, assess the risk and explore lasting solutions.

“We see the Globe and Phoenix incident as warning of a ticking time bomb whose full-scale implosion will have deleterious and yet inexcusable impact on the two cities and the nation at large,” the organisation warned.

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