The Sunday Mail
Mr Michael Ndlovu has been a resident of Hwange’s Ingagula High Density Suburb since 1983. The suburb is located close to Hwange Power Station.
“When we moved here more than thirty years ago, there was no smoke or coal dust to worry about. The smoke from the chimneys at the power station was clear.
“However, around the year 2000, we started to see a change in the type of smoke from the chimneys. It was now dark in colour, contained dust and small particles like ash to the extent that when you put a white garment on the washing line, a few minutes later, the garment would be soiled”, said Mr Ndlovu in between coughs.
“I used to cough a lot and I know it was related to the inhalation of the ash and coal dust.
“A number of families are affected as well and some, especially those with children, have been forced to move from Ingagula suburb after doctors’ recommendations” said Mr Ndlovu, who is also a Township Supervisor in the suburb.
World Health Organization (WHO) describes outdoor air pollution as a major environmental health problem estimated to cause 4,2 million premature deaths globally.
In children and adults, both short and long-term exposure to ambient air pollution can lead to reduced lung function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma.
The country’s Environment Management Act of 2005, Section 4, guarantees everyone the right to a clean environment that is not harmful to their health.
In prioritising intervention under the first phase of Emergency Power Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (EPIRP I), ZimFund financed the rehabilitation of Ash Plant at Hwange Power Station to help improve the provision of adequate, affordable and reliable power supply in an environmentally sound manner.
Before the intervention, the power station used to curtail generation to enable manual removal of the ash from the boilers.
The project comprised the refurbishment, upgrade of the Ash Plant and automation of the evacuation of ash, thereby minimising human intervention in the process.
After project completion in 2016, the power station improved its efficiency, thus enabling it to increase its power generation from 3133 GWh to 3850 GWh and also reduce emission into the atmosphere.
The project was done at a total cost of USD10 million.
“Since 2016, we saw some improvement in terms of smoke coming out of the chimneys, it is now lighter and the particles reduced”, acknowledged Mr Ndlovu.
However, even though ZimFund’s intervention came to the rescue of the residents, a dust-free Ingagula is still a dream to the residents as they are still inhaling some ash and coal dust from the power station.
This is partly due to coal trucks which supply the power station, among other factors.
Hwange Power Station General Manager Mr Arnold Chivurayise noted that the power station is in need of more funding to completely eradicate the dust problem, which is a health hazard to the residents.
ZimFund is a US$145 million Water & Sanitation and Energy programme, which was established in 2010 after the 2008 cholera outbreak.
Its donors are Australia, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
ZimFund is managed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) as part of its operations to improve living conditions in Zimbabwe.
The African Development Bank Group supports other activities in Zimbabwe which include agriculture, energy, transport, private sector and economic and financial governance.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ZimFund donors, the African Development Bank, its Board of Directors or the countries they represent.