ABOUT 50 people living around the Nkandabwe collum coal mine are spending nights in churches after the area around the mine developed cracks, bringing mining activities on one of the shafts to a standstill.
Sinazongwe Member of Parliament Richwell Siamunene confirmed this to the Daily Nation in an interview yesterday.
Mr Siamunene said he was today expected to visit the area to assess the situation to see what could be done immediately to help the displaced families which cannot return to their homes as most of them were at the verge of collapsing.
“We have received a report that there is an emergency in the area that should be attended to and I will be there tomorrow (today) to assess the situation and we will see what will follow,” Mr Siamunene said.
And district commissioner Protantial Mulenga said the affected families were those who had encroached into the mining area.
Mr. Mulenga said the area around the mine was not conducive for human habitation but that the affected families decided to stay there of their own will.
“Nkandabwe mine has had a bit of challenge for some time now in certain areas. It is not that the whole mine collapsed. Just some houses have cracked which shows that the surface land may need urgent attention by the column management and us ourselves to work together. The situation is very normal and we have to find a place for the people.
“It is just a small area where people are living and it was not even ideal for the people to live there. We have seen the villagers’ encroachment was on their own. We have already put measures in place to ensure that the people are helped,” Mr. Mulenga.
Meanwhile, Ward councillor Paston Mangunje told the Daily Nation yesterday that no life was lost as quick intervention by the mining firm and the locals successfully relocated the affected families to nearby churches for safety as the company considered the course of action for those affected.
Mr. Mangunje explained that the residents of Nkandabwe mine woke up to a rude shock on Thursday morning when they found cracks around the houses close to the mine but ignored the initial signs of an impending collapsing of the mine.
He said as the day progressed, it was obvious that it was a matter of time before disaster could strike and that the residents who were close to the mines had to be relocated to churches for their safety.
He said the situation could not have been the same if it was raining as that would have increased the pressure on the land to collapse once it was wet.
“The cracks on the ground were noticed on Thursday morning but people ignored them and thought it was nothing dangerous but as the day progressed, the situation worsened as the cracks turned into holes and that is when we realised that they were caused the mining tunnels underground.
“We called the mine chaplain who immediately suggested that people will have to be relocated and the only alternative place where they could stay were churches and we hope something will be done immediately so that a permanent solution can be found for these people. By the following day, the whole area had collapsed,” Mr. Mangunje said.