Government’s inaction to safety concerns led to classroom block collapse, says Kwekwe MP Tobaiwa

By Prisca Manyiwa- Masuku

Kwekwe Central Constituency Member of Parliament(MP) Honourable Judith Tobaiwa (Citizens Coalition for Change) has bemoaned the government’s reluctance to act upon Globe and Phoenix Primary School’s safety appeals leading to the inevitable collapse of one of the classrooms due to unregulated illegal mining activities happening in the vicinity of the school.

The grade five classroom collapsed early this Thursday, injuring more than ten children. The primary school has children between the ages of five and 11 who precariously traversed the school premises unaware of the impending danger below their feet.

Speaking to Impact Stories Zimbabwe at Globe and Phoenix Primary school this morning, Tobaiwa expressed worry over the government’s lack of timeous action to intervene in the illegal mining activities that were happening around the school premises.

“My heart bleeds for this school because I have made several calls and appeals to the government for the mining activities to be stopped.

“I was here three months ago after the school authorities requested me as the MP to assist them with security and safety because there have been some mining activities that were happening here.

“I raised this issue in parliament and I expected the Ministry of Mines and the Environmental Management Authority to have done something about it by now.

“We have 14 students who have been injured, the problem is that we all want to act up when the worst has happened. This could have been avoided.  I am told that there is a young girl who has been seriously injured and we do not what will happen to her in future,” said Tobaiwa.

Tobaiwa applauded the stakeholders’ decision to have the school immediately closed.

 “All the stakeholders have agreed that the school should be closed which is fine because we cannot keep on risking our children’s lives. Their safety comes first,” she said.

  Tobaiwa condemned the relevant authorities’ inaction to the mining activities affecting the school for years.

“At law, the mine is supposed to be located far away from school, home and the city centre but under the circumstances, the mine and the school are too close.

“We had an engagement with the Environment Management Agency, the Ministry of Mines and the school authorities a few months ago concerning this issue. I understand that EMA and the Ministry of Mines came up with their reports.

“We also installed some lights around the school with Community Development Funds as a matter of security(sic) but still more should have been done,” she added.

One of the parents whose child fell victim to the incident had no kind words for the Ministry of Education and other relevant authorities for exposing children to danger.

“I received a call this morning that my child had been injured in the classroom. I am really hurt.

“The Ministry of education and other authorities should have done something about this long ago because there have been several red lights that something bad may happen someday, our children are not safe at this school because of mining activities,” said an elderly woman who declined to be identified.

Meanwhile, sometime last year relevant stakeholders had a meeting and agreed that the school be rehabilitated as it is under threat of collapse due to mining tunnels running underground.

The head of the school Issac Bvupajena suggested that the school be relocated as it is no longer safe for children and members of staff.

However, up to date nothing tangible had materialized.

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