Artisanal miners both licensed and unlicensed have become a major threat to railway infrastructure as they continue carrying out panning activities in undesignated areas along the Harare-Shamva route.

This has prompted the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to engage communities through awareness campaigns on the importance of safeguarding infrastructure.

While assessing the Tatagura area in Mazowe, NRZ Area Manager Eastern Region, Mr Stephen Mupondi said in the past few weeks, sections of the railway line have been affected by panners who are digging within the 45m radius from rail infrastructure.

“We continue to subsist in the threat and this threat relates to the railway collapsing and in the past two weeks, we have had certain portions totally collapsing and we are in the process of rehabilitating them,” he said.

NRZ Public Relations Manager, Nyasha Maravanyika called on relevant authorities to coordinate so that artisanal miners do not jeopardise operations of support sectors.

“As the NRZ, we cannot go it alone, we need important regulatory players that is EMA, ZRP and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to take control. We have seen that currently, there are no associations that are controlling these illegal miners and we need the government to play its part and the ministry has that mandate,” he said.

The Harare-Shamva railway line is a key trade route used for transporting agricultural inputs and grain to and from the rich farming province.

It further links Bindura Nickel mine which transports ore to its South African market.

Apart from the Tatagura area, Kitsiyatota in Bindura is a ticking time bomb as artisanal miners are panning inches away from the railway line.