AT least 10 new proposed fuel stations projects have been halted and the owners fined since the beginning of the year after the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) discovered the developers commenced building without the necessary approvals.
In an interview, EMA environmental education and publicity manager, Amkela Sidange, said a number of developers of fuel stations are choosing to ignore the law and start building their facilities without approvals.
These approvals include Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) which are a requirement when constructing certain buildings.
“There are developments that actually require an environmental impact assessment, which very soon we will be calling an environmental and social impact assessment to be done before implementation,” she said.
“So, that is according to the first schedule of the Environmental Management Act.
“Now, if we look at fuel stations, they are actually prescribed under that schedule.
“So, fuel stations are a prescribed project and they need an EIA before implementation.
“And, this is where as EMA we come in.
“And, if we are to look at the prevalence of fuel stations, especially around Harare, we have had problems with some developers that we actually found already implementing their projects without the necessary documentation.
“I think plus or minus 10 developers, since the beginning of the year, have been penalised and have even been ordered to cease implementation because of that fact.
“They were found not having that necessary documentation.”
Sidange said residents need to understand that EMA does not do the allocation of land but is there to check compliance to environmental laws and regulations to ensure that that developments do not degrade the environment, especially pollution of the environment and air contamination.
“So, for starters, what we need to understand is that as the agency, we don’t do the allocation of land,” she said.
“That is done by other institutions, as well as probably looking at the distance that should be maintained in as far as the residential areas or whatever form of other development is happening.
“We only come in now to check on environmental compliance to ensure that that development does not really compromise the environment.
“That’s when we come in.
“And, definitely, when they are not in compliance, we order the operation to cease.”