A health and environmental crisis looms in Chiradzulu where industrial waste dumped into Sable Dam is killing fish, snails and other aquatic life.
The fish is being sold in markets and by the roadside, especially around Tomasi Trading Centre and PIM, raising health concerns arising from its consumption.
In an interview, Austin Zgambo—environmental health officer for Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response at Chiradzulu District Hospital—said they have collected samples of the dead fish and snails for testing.
“We have taken the samples to our laboratory to find out the cause of the death. In the interim, we would like to ask people to stop collecting the dead fish until the findings from the laboratories are released,” said Zgambo.
Zgambo warned industries to be responsible and dispose of the waste in a manner that does not kill aquatic life or cause waterborne diseases.
“Companies should ensure that they manage their wastes properly to prevent pollution and endangering human as well as aquatic life. They should be reminded that many people use the same water for drinking,” said Zgambo.
Village Head Jacket of Traditional Authority (T/A) Mpama, in whose area the dam is situated, confirmed that she is aware of the poisoned fish since January.
“I just noted that people were going to the dam and returning with fish. When I asked, I was told the fish were dead and floating in the dam,” said Jacket.
No company has admitted to dumping its waste into the dam.
Chairman for Chiradzulu Concerned Youth Organisation, Precious Soko, feared the development would impact on people’s livelihoods as some earn a living from fishing in the dam while others use the water, especially downstream, for domestic purposes such as drinking.
Sable Farming Company handed over the dam a few years ago to the community for people’s use.