Residents have commended the move by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to build solar farms to generate electricity but have raised concern at plans to set them up at the city’s cemeteries.
According to the latest council report, the local authority has mooted plans to set up solar farms at its cemeteries.
A solar farm is a large collection of interconnected solar panels that work together to capture sunlight and turn it into electricity on a grand scale.
CITE spoke to a number of residents who acknowledged the importance of solar energy and urged council to look for alternative land.
“I think embracing solar energy is a good idea as we need alternative sources of energy. But are there no spaces where we can have these solar farms other than cemeteries,” said Mthabisi Nyoni a resident.
“The council has so much land lying idle, it should invest in that land. The cemeteries may have filled up and been decommissioned but our dearly departed are still laid there.”
Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association (BPRA) organising secretary for Cowdray Park, Melusi Moyo said BCC should find alternative land as it is a cultural taboo to tamper with graves.
Another resident Gugulethu Ndlovu, disputed the council’s move saying a cemetery is a sensitive place both religiously and culturally.
“The council can use roofs of buildings across the city for such a project, they do not necessarily have to dig around graves,” said Ndlovu.
She said the city council should first inform residents on how it is planning on setting up the solar farms without interfering with the graves.
“There should be campaigns that will be carried out to ensure that they get a buy in from residents,” said Ndlovu.
“It will take time for people to embrace this initiative.”
Ndumo Masuku Resident Magistrate in Lupane said BCC should engage residents on what is needed to set up solar farms.
“If residents know the nature of infrastructure involved in establishing the solar farms, then this would help them assess whether it is viable to build them in cemeteries,” said Masuku.
“We could also solicit some expert input from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) for this project if there is a need for it.”