THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is concerned about an upsurge in illegal gold mining activities within railway reserve land.
Gold miners and panners are undertaking mining activities a few metres from the railway line and in some cases, they are digging under railway tracks.
Digging trenches close to the railway line poses a risk to the travelling public and there is a risk of rail collapsing under the weight of trains due to the weakened ground or surface.
It also costs the NRZ a lot of money to replace the damaged rail. This money could be better used in developing the rail network instead of repairing damage deliberately caused by a few people.
Illegal gold miners and panners in railway reserve land are found at Tatagura in Mazowe, Bindura Town where panning activities are taking place 500 metres along the railway reserve, Jumbo Siding, Shurugwi, Shamva, Ngezi River, Redfield and in Chiwundura.
The longest stretch where illegal mining activities are taking place is on the section between Gado and Chiwundura where 14 km of railway reserve land has been invaded by panners
NRZ urges these illegal gold miners to vacate the railway reserve land as they are violating the law. We appeal to the general public to be responsible and law abiding citizens to safeguard railways equipment and infrastructure for the development of the country.
While gold is important to the country’s economy as a major foreign currency earner, mining activities should not threaten the existence of the railways, which are an important infrastructure to the country.
Miners and members of the public are reminded that it is illegal to undertake any mining, cultivation or building activities within railway reserve land.
The railway reserve land is 45m wide either side of the track all main lines. The public must respect this strip of land and stop any farming and mining activities along the railway reserve as it is a violation of the Railways Act.
The Railways Act (Chapter 13.09) Clause 38 paragraph 4, section c states that “any person who digs, excavates, drills, tunnels under or otherwise tempers with the ground within 45m on either side of the middle of a railway track to the actual or potential detriment of the safety of railway traffic: shall be guilty of an offence and be liable to imprisonment for a period of not less than five years”
The NRZ has already started engaging relevant stakeholders as it formulates a publicity awareness campaign against gold panning within the railway reserve.