Over 200 companies in Harare’s industrial sites have been found dumping excessive pollutants into the City’s riverine systems. In an operation conducted by the City of Harare (CoH) and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) the companies were found to be contravening the Environmental Act which provides that companies have pre-treatment plants at their sites.
CoH Chief Environmental Technician Chad Mabika said the operation covered 520 companies and ticketed 200 industries for working without proper pre-treatment plants. Mabika said, “Industries that were inspected in Harare generate a lot of effluent like solvents, oil and grease.” He said that to date three quarters of the companies that were ticketed have complied and are working towards restoring their malfunctioning systems or putting up new pre-treatment plants.
Finos Gapare, EMA’s Environment Inspector, said that the goal of the operation was largely successful. “It was evident that the sampled industries were beyond the permissible levels of discharging waste effluent,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Food and Beverages Cluster chairperson, Dr Tapera Mazodza, said the CoH and EMA have used heavy-handed approaches to make their members comply. He said the infrastructure required for compliance is very expensive. Oil separators for kitchens cost around $10,000 while some effluent plants need a capital outlay of up to $5 million. The cluster members cannot easily access these levels of investments given that the economy is floundering. Dr Mazodza said, “The city council has discharged raw sewage in several parts of Chitungwiza and Harare yet the authorities don’t appear to be implementing the same steps that they are forcing the private sector to pursue. The cluster does not think we are going to notice an improvement soon because only a few members are involved. The food and beverages sector in Harare alone has the potential to have more than 1,000 members and yet only 15 members are committed and are complying with the requirements. What difference does it make when only 2% comply and the other 98% do not?”
According to the report generated during the operation, 70% of samples collected for analysis in the Graniteside Industrial area indicated that most of the companies were not compliant. The major culprits were said to be beverage manufacturers and chrome extracting companies. Chrome industries use chemicals like sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, ferrous sulphate and caustic soda. Tobacco processors were also said to be dumping their waste at undesignated sites.
The 227 page report recommended that companies that discharge any effluent into the environment should have pre-treatment plants and that measures be formulated to deal with the Graniteside hot spot. The report recommended that another operation should cover Bluff Hill, Msasa, Willowvale and the Central Business District and that a follow-up operation is to be carried out in order to ensure compliance.