Residents at Machinjiri in Blantyre have accused construction company Mota Engil of damaging their houses through the company’s quarry mining activities.
A woman identified as Catherine Ntandika has been posting on Facebook for several months about the damage which she says has been caused by quarry mining.
According to Ntandika, Mota Engil has been breaking up rocks using heavy explosives for years in the area to mine quarry which the company uses for construction works.
This has left houses in the area with huge cracks and homeowners fear their houses could collapse at any time.
“We struggled to build our houses and we were living comfortably before Mota Engil came to operate near our settlement in area 10 Machinjiri, Blantyre.
“The houses have now been left in a state that may they at any time collapse and some have already collapsed. All the supporting beams have been weakened and the walls separated and dangerous cracks have developed. Mota Engil have been boasting at several occasions that they are Authorized to break the houses and to abuse Malawians in any way they can. We have cried out, May the President intervene and come to our rescue,” she wrote in one post.
She also claimed that a gravel road which is one of the feeder roads in Machinjiri has been damaged because of the company’s activities and the chemicals being used at the mine have affected communities around the site.
“The victims are numerous. My plea to authorities is to seriously look into this issue. Also, Mota Engil uses cheap and unskilled personnel to conduct this task,” said Ntandika.
In another post she said: “Every morning these cracks welcome me and my heart aches and misses a beat. Living in such environment causes worry and many other nasty experiences.”
According to a research paper on Safety Culture at Njuli Quarry mine published in 2020, high risk mining operations such as drilling, blasting, loading, hauling and processing of rock aggregates are conducted at the mine and these could affect residents of surrounding communities.
Mota Engil set up offices in Malawi in the 1990s and over the years the company has been engaged for major constructions projects such as Nsanje Port, roads and hydropower stations. It also has mining licences but the materials extracted are for construction purposes only.
The company’s spokesperson Thomas Chafunya said the Machinjiri issue is currently in court and they are waiting for hearing.