Cabinet has raised concern that illegal artisanal mining activities are threatening to damage the Bulawayo-Beitbridge railway line.
Broadcasting Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, yesterday told the media that the government is concerned at the threat of the destruction of even other country’s critical communications infrastructure and economic activities posed by illegal miners across all sectors.
“In the area operated by the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Railway (Pvt) Ltd, artisanal miners had dug pits within the three metre radius of the railway line,” she said.
Mutsvangwa went on to raise fears that the artisanal miners’ activities have the potential to weaken the railway infrastructure leading to possible derailment and damage to the track.
Zimbabwe’s government in response to the illegal artisanal mining activities is expected to deploy security forces in order to stop the damage on the railway line.
The country’s cabinet has already approved the deployment of special security operations to deter artisanal mining activities along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Railway line according to Mutsvangwa.
“Cabinet further directed that law enforcement be intensified in all areas and further security enhancement measures instituted to ensure that no further costly damage of strategic communications infrastructure and derailment of economic activity caused by illegal artisanal mining activity persists.”
She also said that stiffer penalties will also be matted out on artisanal miners who engage in destructive illegal activities
The Bulawayo-Beitbridge railway line is an US$85 million investment owned by the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), 15% NLPI Limited (NLPI) investors which include Nedbank Ltd(SA), Old Mutual (SA), NLB (Mauritius) and Grindrod (SA)
The 350-kilometre railway line carries goods between Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo and South Africa.