• Only 18 workers are being treated after developing a strange illness over suspected exposure to chemicals.
• This is contrary to the 35 reported by Centre for Environment Justice (CEJ) yesterday.
• Government has taken keen interest in the issue.
Serenje’s Muchinga Member of Parliament has clarified that only 18 workers are being treated after developing a strange illness over suspected exposure to chemicals at a manganese processing plant in the district.
Speaking in an interview with Money FM News, Emmanuel Banda said this is contrary to the 35 reported by Centre for Environment Justice (CEJ) yesterday, adding that out of the 18 affected workers, three are in a bad condition while the other 15 are much better.
Mr. Banda stated that management at the company has been cooperating very well with his office as they have been taking the affected people to all the medical facilities that were agreed upon.
“The truth of the matter is that yes we have some manganese companies in Serenje and one of them which is situated in Kanona is where such a disease was detected last year somewhere in May. I received a report in August and I was told that the first case was detected somewhere in May, 2022 and this is February the other year. I engaged the company management after engaging the families of those that were diagnosed with the same disease and the company has been cooperating very well.”
“As we agreed they didn’t fire anyone and they have been taking those people to all the medical facilities where they have been requested to. They were taking them to Chitambo and Chitambo thought they had no capacity but maybe Kitwe mine hospital and the company facilitated their movements. And the other thing that I need to clarify is that my office has only received the issue of about 18 and not 35 because even at UTH the records that have been worked on are for 18,” Mr. Banda stated.
He further said government has taken keen interest in the issue and CEJ is coming in at a time when almost all the processes have been exhausted.
“The issue is being looked at by government, probably the Doctor will be giving a report that will be handed over to the relevant authorities and action will be taken based on that.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Banda stated that families of the affected people have been asking for compensation from the company but he is against this idea because the employees are still sick and the medical process has not yet been exhausted.
“I thought once they are compensated then the company will not take further responsibility of their medical bills. So I have always guided that let the medical team do their work as the company is cooperating with what we want,” he added.
On Sunday, Centre for Environment Justice said it had learnt that 35 people that work for a manganese processing plant in Serenje District shake continuously after developing a strange illness, and demanded for improved health and safety in processing plants.
Centre Executive Director Maggie Mwape further urged Government to strengthen due diligence to audit the background of investors through security wings as some of those operating in Serenje district were shut down in their own countries for violating environmental laws, human rights and health.
Ms. Mwape called for an evacuation of the victims for specialized treatment abroad.
“Workers get paid K1, 700 with majority working as casual workers receiving K5 as over-time per hour,” Ms. Mwape said.