EMGANWINI residents living in a section known as the “dark city” section of the high-density suburb have been given a reprieve by the Bulawayo City Council which issued them with permits to fetch firewood without being arrested by council rangers.
City by-laws prohibit the cutting down of trees and perpetrators are often fined, but residents have long defied this regulation.
Area councillor Norman Hlabani yesterday said the permits were only for Emganwini residents.
“We have been having problems with council rangers, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Zimbabwe Republic Police who are arresting residents once spotted fetching firewood,” he said.
“Council and the government know that the section has not had electricity since the houses were built.
“To avoid further conflict we have resolved to give residents with no electricity special discs which they should always carry when fetching firewood,” Hlabani said.
The “dark city” section of Emganwini has gone for 10 years without electricity and several women have been mugged and others raped while fetching firewood.
While alternatives such as gas and paraffin are easily available, these products are way above the reach of most of the affected residents, as they are more expensive than firewood.
“We walk for more than 7km to look for firewood. Sometimes we are harassed by city council rangers or farm owners who catch us poaching firewood on their farmland. So the discs would be a good move” a resident Silibaziso Ndlovu said.
“The discs are issued for a group of 10 residents, but they do not specify any particular area where they can fetch firewood.”