Villagers, artisanal miners loot petrol after 42k litres tanker overturns

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

SCORES of villagers and artisanal miners from Moi in Hurungwe district Wednesday stampeded to siphon thousands litres of petrol from a fuel tanker that had been involved in an accident, risking their lives.

The spillage occurred Wednesday evening at Hilltop, Moi area along the Harare–Chirundu Highway.

Environmental Management Agency (EMA) provincial spokesperson, Munyaradzi Nhariswa, confirmed the matter.

“The spillage involved a Gilbro haulage truck carrying 42 000litres of petrol, resulting in the discharge of approximately 40 000 litres into the environment. Fortunately, there was no fire incident,” said Nhariswa.

About 250 square metres of the environment was affected by the spillage.

EMA has since engaged the transporter, Gilbro, to sanitise the area in order to minimise ecological damage.

“Section 73 of the Environmental Management Act (Cap 20:27) prohibits the discharge of hazardous substances into the environment and places the responsibility of rehabilitating and restoring the affected area on the polluter.

The company has since engaged a private company to clean-up,” he added.

Nhariswa warned against getting close to accident scenes involving highly flammable substances such as petrol, as people risked being burnt.

“Do not attempt to draw the spilled substance. Most of the substances can be very dangerous. In the case of fuel, it is highly flammable and may explode.”

He urged transporters to promptly notify relevant institutions verbally within an hour, and in writing within 24 hours of an accidental discharge.

These include EMA, the Emergency Response Company tasked with reclamation, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), and Civil Protection Unit (CPU).

He also said transporters of hazardous substances should adhere to the stipulated travelling times of 0400hrs to 2000hrs.