Barry Gettliffe

Barry Gettliffe


Enterprise: Coal Mozambique

Position: Operations Manager

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Story about how we build paradise in Chitima

Believe me, environmental management in the Cahorra Bassa District of Mozambique’s Tete Province is not for sissies. In that north-western part of the country, when people talk about a “hot and dry climate” they really mean it – expect 63 degrees in November. Water is a real problem and the mosquitoes would qualify for a World War fighter squadron. So when we say, “Paradise is heading for our Chitima Complex,” feel free to be amazed.

We at Coal Mozambique explored and found coal which we intend mining for a power station that will feed the national grid. Three years ago, with this grand plan in mind, we began preparing a camp in an area with Baobab trees, Mopani bush, little grass, many goats and small villages.

When the construction phase began, the area was to be “made clean”, so a dozer was employed to level and de-bush the area.

Today the camp consists of 20 cabins, a mess hall, kitchen, dining room, slow lounge, verandah, clinic, fire station and garden. The Industrial Area has a helicopter LZ, hangar, workshops, main store, office block and a guard room with containers as stowage.

We have, over three years and with varying degrees of success, enticed Paradise back in. It started with an attempt at some gardening. We also built a pond and stocked it with barbel fish.

We stopped Operation Make Clean. We dug up the area and created a Zen garden.

We then planted about 3 000 trees in three huge blocks, and things began to look better! We stopped all spraying of poisons for flies, mosquitoes, and other insects. After a major row we stopped all cutting of trees and bush. We removed the zapper machines and filled all puddles to prevent mosquito breeding.

We put up an owl box and our first 11 baby owls hatched.

We brought in guinea fowl to eat insects. We did a mosquito survey with a prominent consultant entomologist. He could only catch 10 in our area and went away somewhat disgruntled. We employed two ducks to eat mosquito larvae. We planted lemon, orange, guava, mango, pawpaw and lime trees.

Today the trees have grown at least three metres high. The owls and guinea fowl flourish, the mosquitoes have gone, the fruit trees are still small, the onions look good, the water melons failed.

WHILE WE WAIT…

A reminder of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, who said to his aide de camp, “My men need to rest in the shade. Plant trees.”

The aide de camp replied, “But General, it will take them 10 years to grow.”

Napoleon, “Quick then, there is not a minute to waste.”