Balaka district labour officer Edson Luchapa says mining in residential areas puts people at risk of contracting airborne diseases, especially tuberculosis (TB).
Speaking last week in the district during integrated labour inspection conducted under World Bank-funded TB in Mines Project, he said it is sad to see that employers are ignoring labour occupational safety standards.
“I have inspected places where mining activities are taking place, but employers are not providing their workers with occupational and safety gears as required by law, apart from paying them below government minimum wages,” said Luchapa.
He said there is need to enforce the law and hold owners of mining companies accountable for exposing workers and surrounding communities to hazardous conditions.
Balaka TB officer Thomas Bizeki said the district is rolling out activities, especially in areas surrounding mines, to ensure that all people have access to information on TB.
“Some people are constructing houses close to mining activities and dust from the mines accumulates in their homes and the high concentration of dust particles puts people at risk of lung infections and the likelihood of contracting TB is high,” he said.
Bizeki said TB in mines is more prevalent in countries where mining is more advanced, but in Malawi with over 10 000 known mining activities, the problem is growing.
TB in Mines Project is being implemented in nine districts, including Nsanje, Balaka, Mzimba and Karonga with funding from the World Bank amounting to $17 million (about K12 billion) of which one third comes from the Malawi Government.