A FUEL tanker ferrying 35,000 litres of petrol has overturned near the Mkushi River, the main source of water for residents of the town and surrounding areas, raising concerns of a possible spillage into the river.
The Zambia Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA) and the Water Resources Management Authority have been directed to assess the possible threat of the spillage to consumers and aquatic life.
The accident happened when the tanker, registration number T142 BZC from Dar-es-Salaam to Lusaka overturned in Chalata area on Monday, spilling some of the fuel into a nearby drainage which connects to Mkushi River.
"Whatever the case, we are directing inspectors from ZEMA and WRMA to straight away come and investigate the levels of pollution. The fuel spillage that has taken place here it is going through a stream that leads into Mkushi River," Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection Permanent Secretary Ed Chomba said.
Dr Chomba and his Central Province counterpart, Chanda Kabwe, visited the accident scene in Mkushi yesterday.
Police were present at the scene following an earlier scramble for the fuel by locals immediately word went round that a fuel tanker had overturned. This was around 07:30 hours.
Mr Kabwe said the provincial administration was worried that the spillage could threaten the lives of people and livestock.
"As you may be aware, this area is full of livestock, which use the water from this stream, so if we don't move quickly to neutralise any pollution that may have happened, we're going to lose animals here," he said.
He thanked Dr Chomba for directing the immediate deployment of inspectors to the site to assess the extent of pollution.
The driver of the truck, Julius Mushiku, 35, who escaped with minor injuries, said the truck overturned as he swerved to avoid a collision with another truck.