By Pamenus Tuso
A health hazard is looming in some of Bulawayo’s high density suburbs due to raw sewage that in some cases is even sipping into houses as the Bulawayo City Council battles to address this environmental time bomb due to manpower constraints.
The local authority has been struggling to respond to sewer pipe bursts in the city on time, a situation that was worsened after some members of the council’s reaction team had contracted Covid-19, or were in isolation after coming into contact with infected people.
Town clerk, Christopher Dube, recently revealed that several members of the sewer task team had been forced to go into quarantine after being exposed to the virus.
Although most of the sewer task team are back at work, they are apparently failing to cope with the huge backlog which arose because of the isolations.
Suburbs which have been adversely affected by the burst sewer problem include Old Magwegwe, Mzilikazi, Emakhandeni ,Cowdray Park , Emganwini, Mpopoma and Makokoba, where residents have complained of sudden stomach aches which they suspected was caused by effluent flowing into their homes.
More than 100 households in Makokoba high density suburb are grappling with raw sewage flowing into their houses. They accuse council of failing to perform its duties thereby putting their lives at risk.
Makokoba COVID-19 Task Force director, Dingaan Ndlovu, acknowledged the sewer challenges in the city’s oldest suburb.
“We appreciate the amount of effort that is being put by BCC to keep our environment habitable but we realize that they are overwhelmed and seem to be losing the battle with sewages.
“Raw sewerage is now all over and it has become like a new normal. People are literally living with sewer in their homes,”
“Raw sewerage is flowing into houses and families are exposed to this health hazard. We urge BCC to timeously respond to this crisis by engaging various other partners,” said Ndlovu who is also Makokoba’s environmental cleansing committee chairperson.
Bulawayo City Council deputy Mayor, Mlandu Ncube, said although most of the city’s sewer task teams are back from isolation they are failing to cope with the sewer blockage backlog.
“ Some of the cases could be as a result of the gap which was left when some of our workers were affected by COVID-19 but the main challenges which council is facing is vandalism of sewer infrastructure,” said Ncube.
The Environmental Management Authority (EMA), early this year expressed concern over the continued discharge of raw sewerage into the environment by
EMA said since 2011 up to now, it has issued the local authority with 34 orders and five tickets for flouting environmental management laws.
The local authority is implementing major rehabilitation works on its water and sewer system under the Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement
Project funded by the African Development Bank.