Troubled with the heavily contaminated Mudi River in Blantyre, an eco-warrior non-governmental organisation (NGO) has petitioned Carlsberg Malawi Limited over allegations of its contribution to the pollution.
In an open letter addressed to Carlsberg Malawi managing director Philip Norley, the Institute of Sustainable Development (ISD) has requested the brewery to take action on the concerns raised.
However, while expressing ignorance of the petition, the company said it treats environmental issues with the highest degree of importance and takes all concerns seriously.
In an e-mailed response, Norley said the effluent from his company does not go into the Mudi River as alleged, but flows into the sewage system of Blantyre City Council (BCC).
ISD executive director Godfrey Mfiti, in the letter dated August 2 2016, has demanded immediate action from Carlsberg to “stop this practice” which he described as a gross violation of human rights.
Mudi River flows out of Blantyre Water Board’s Mudi Dam with potable water and in small volume but as it flows past part of Makata Industrial Area, the water gets polluted with loads of chemical discharges from the industries.
In April this year, Mfiti also petitioned BCC detailing the alarming pollution of the Mudi River and in response to their request, the council invited them to a meeting.
“During the meeting, it was revealed that Carlsberg Malawi Limited has been the main polluter of the Mudi River over the years and warning letters have been sent to the company. We have noted with regret that the situation has not changed despite this approach,” he said.
Carlsberg Malawi has a reputation of promoting environmental conservation and has previously provided tree seedlings in exchange for bottle tops.
ISD thus said allegations of polluting the environment were contrary to the company’s reputation and brand across the world.
In his April petition, ISD bemoaned the river’s environmental standards, arguing the situation was a clear infringement of human rights and Environmental Management Act.
Further downstream, sewage waste literally empties into the river, with some people using the same water.
The development has been going on for years with conservationists and other stakeholders speaking against it, but nothing solid has become visible to address the catastrophe.
But Norley said his company conducts regular checks and thorough dye tracing to ensure the pipes they installed to direct waste water into the sewage system are in good shape.
“The first quarter water sample test conducted by Blantyre City shows that we are in compliance with effluent specifications, and we are waiting for second quarter results,” he said.
Norley also revealed a waste water treatment plant will be established by 2017 to further demonstrate the company’s social responsibility.
BCC public relations manager Anthony Kasunda said he would respond to our questionnaire on the matter when in office.
But in an earlier interview with The Nation after ISD petitioned the council to take action on Mudi River, Kasunda said relevant offices will attend to the issue as previously done with other issues raised in correspondent from residents and other stakeholders.
But commenting on the issue, environmentalist Dorothy Tembo said the current situation of Mudi River was a time-bomb waiting to detonate.
She said: “I wonder if the institutions that contribute to the pollution have policies as regards public health management because this is against Environmental Management Act. These institutions are supposed to have environmental management plans on how they will manage their waste disposals.”
There have been several initiatives by various groups to clean the Mudi River.