Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) chairperson Makumba Nyenje has called on small-scale and artisanal miners to avoid casual movements during the lockdown to curb the spread of the virus in the mining sector.
Rudairo Dickson Mapuranga
Nyenje who recently established an environmental safety and health administration organisation called Zimbabwe
Safety, Health and Environmental Trust (ZIMSHET) in an endeavour to reduce accidents in the small scale sector said miners were facing a double risk of the pandemic and accidents which needed a strong presence of support groups to minimise the hazards posed.
“Miners are allowed to work 24/7 during the lockdown period but casual movements should be restricted. Covid-19 pandemic is real and miners are facing double risk.
“Underground a lot of mine accidents are being recorded and on the surface, we need to stay safe from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is the reason I teamed up with some members to preach about safety, health, and Environmental protection issues,” he said.
Nyenje through ZIMSHET has called on small-scale and artisanal miners to 1. avoid close contact and overcrowding when working 2. clean and disinfect equipment and frequently touched surfaces, 3. sanitise or wash hands with soap, and 4. stay home if they feel sick.
ZIMSHET which will mainly focus its work in the Southern part of the country is looking forward to performing a safe small-scale mining sector through seeking to perform on behalf of relevant stakeholders functions such as mandatory inspections, serious accident investigations, and investigations of hazard complaints (imminent danger).
The organisation is also seeking to curb the pandemic in the small-scale mining sector by encouraging miners to ban visits as well as minimizing contract workers.
ZIMSHET has vowed to monitor the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of the communities miners are operating in and to assess where miners can come in to provide support.
According to Njenye ZIMSHET will encourage miners to safeguard the communities they operate in. “We are also looking forward to small-scale miners to practice corporal social responsibility so that communities appreciate the work of small-scale and artisanal miners,” Nyenje said.
Zimbabwe has been plagued with mine disasters over the past few months, often resulting in the death of scores of miners. However, most deaths have occurred at illegally run disused mines.
The Minister of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando underscored the need for orderly mining in the country saying this will go a long way in preventing mine accidents.
“Adequate, regular inspections are one of the critical things that we need to ensure that we mitigate against the accidents. According to the law, inspections at mining concessions should be done at least four times per annum.” Minister Chitando said.