HomeLocal NewsChaminuka builds footbridges for community

Chaminuka builds footbridges for community

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LEONARD Chaminuka was touched when he saw an elderly woman who was trying to cross a sewerage-filled path which connects Rutendo 1 and Rutendo Infill. She failed to negotiate the stones, slipped and fell into a pond. That was in 2009 while Chaminuka was coming from work on his way home.

Report by Own correspondent

In fact, the sewer bursts were so prevalent and had blocked a road which in 2008 was being used by commuter omnibuses. In 2009 it had been abandoned and was reduced to a footpath.

The incident was the trigger for Chaminuka — known by his friends as Gono. He started rallying resources to build footpath crossings to help the community and his fellow workmen who use paths that go across the perennial streams and ponds of sewerage.

“I was touched when I saw the old lady like that. She was walking with her husband who helped her up and attempted to clean her, but she was in a mess. I then resolved to do something about it,” Gono said.

Chaminuka, who is employed as a senior caster at New Zimsteel, has built four foot bridges and all are proudly inscribed Chaminuka Gono — a lasting example to remind all who use them of what one man’s inspiration can do to change the world.

An estimated 300 people use the Rutendo Infill footbridge every day. It has become the main foot bridge connecting the suburb to its major schools, Rutendo Primary School and Rutendo Secondary, which enrol around 200 pupils from the suburb.

Their parents also use the same footbridges when going to the suburb’s shopping centre. Gono chose to build a footbridge for the community while other enterprising residents chose to pursue personal interests.

His second major project was one which he called “the works bridge”. It is a footbridge that is used by more than 600 New Zimsteel workers who live in Rutendo.

The workers, just like the residents, have to cross a stream — which overflows with sewerage — for them to get to and from the main plant at New Zimsteel. This is by far the busiest footpath used by shift workers all day long.

Before Chaminuka built the bridge, workers used to take the longest route to work.

Taurai Mhare from New Zimsteel said: “One day I slipped from the log that we used to cross and fell into the stream of sewage. It was one unpleasant journey back home from work and even worse for my wife who had to wash the clothes for me.”

Chaminuka’s efforts were recognised by Ziscosteel management which donated slashers which are used to cut tall grass on the sides of the footpath especially during the rainy season.

Chaminuka has also assisted families that have problems of sewage at their homes by making trenches that direct it away from homes into the streams.

The Tsuro family at 27 Jairos Street in Rutendo, are some of the beneficiaries from Chaminuka’s initiatives. The family has two children who had become accustomed to playing in the filthy waters until Chaminuka came to the rescue.

The work which everyone had left for the local authority to do is being done by just one man who seeks no public office, but gets satisfaction from helping other people to live in healthy environments.

“Instead of complaining and hoping council will do something I moved in to fill the gap in aid of my community. I feel great after doing it,” Gono explained.

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