The Sunday News
Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Midlands Correspondent
THE road along Fernie Creek Pass (Boterekwa escarpment) near Shurugwi is on the verge of collapse after artisanal miners in the area dug a 15-metre-deep and seven-metre-wide cross cutting tunnel underneath the road resulting in part of the highway caving in.
The depression is posing a threat to motorists travelling between Zvishavane and Gweru. The road is also frequented by haulage trucks travelling to Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania through Gweru from South Africa.
Environmental Management Agency (Ema) Midlands provincial manager Mr Benson Bhasera said Ema would do an aerial assessment to see the magnitude of the damage that has been caused to the road and environment.
“We visited the damage site along Boterekwa and observed that there are two tunnels underneath the road coming from the eastern side of Boterekwa. The other measures eight metres wide and two metres deep. The other one looked more dangerous because it is approximately 15 metres deep. From what we have observed part of the road has started giving in. Some are old tunnels that the artisanal miners have started working on.
“These illegal mining activities started as way back as 2011 when the gold miners damaged the same road along Boterekwa escarpment. The road was rehabilitated but now they have come back again. We are going to make an aerial assessment of the magnitude of damaged caused to the environment and the road as well. We are going to work with the Ministry of Transport and (Infrastructural Development) which is responsible for the road maintenance,” he said.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana, however, said work had started to rehabilitate the road.
“Work to reconstruct a portion of Fernie Creek Pass (Boterekwa) road in Shurugwi has started and is expected to be complete in a week.
Roads Department discovered more tunnels crossing underneath the highway,” he said on his official Twitter account.