THE advent of the rainy season ushers in the beauty of nature, characterised by the sprouting flowers and trees but this is not so in the streets of Harare.
BY HAZVINEI MWANAKA – The Standard
Trash of green mealies, banana peels, rotting vegetable matter and left-overs of the brown wild fruits [mazhanje] have become an eyesore in Harare, once referred to as the Sunshine City.
A snap survey by The Standard last week revealed that almost every street corner has become a disgusting sight, as vendors leave garbage everywhere once they have finished selling their wares or when running away from municipal police officers.
Most of the vendors make no attempt to deposit their litter in bins or clean the places where they operate at.
At around 5pm, most of Harare’s street pavements are almost completely blocked with vendors selling their wares, making it virtually impossible for pedestrians to manoeuvre their way home after work.
The litter left by the vendors exposes Harare residents, who throng to buy the wares, to waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, especially during the rainy season.
Residents who spoke to The Standard last week, expressed dismay at the deteriorating levels of hygiene in Harare.
“I think it is a matter of failed policies, the vendors are not to blame here but the council which is failing to come up with solutions,” said Neil Moyo. “The council must bring in new policies that will put vendors on designated places, because now even First Street has lost its glamour as it is now full of street vendors.”
However, vendors blamed consumers for failing to deposit litter in the few bins available after buying their commodities and the city council for not providing enough bins around the city.
“Our aim is to make a living through vending, not pollute the environment. Although it is illegal to throw litter, there seems to be no option as the city council does not provide us with necessary rubbish bins. As such, people end up throwing litter everywhere,” said a vendor who operates near Harare Charge Office.
He however conceded that the vendors themselves needed to create sanity on their places of work. “We could at least form a vendor’s union, which would take turns to go and empty the garbage on a daily basis.”
The Harare City Council in conjunction with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the police, recently launched an anti-litter, crime and open fires campaign in order to raise awareness among the residents, but their efforts appear to have fallen on deaf ears.
EMA education and publicity manager, Steady Kangata said the agency was still working closely with the local authority to restore sanity to the city.
“Waste management has always been a challenge, we are working closely with the local authority and we also urge the city fathers to place bins at strategic points and timeously collect the refuse,” Kangata said.
He said residents would be exposed to diseases if vendors leave litter on the pavements.
“Once litter is left uncollected, it is swept away by the rains into our rivers and not only does this cause water pollution, but waterborne diseases are also bred,” said Kangata. “Thus, the vendors in as much as they want to make a living, one thing for sure is, those brown wild fruits [mazhanje] are not supposed to be sold on the streets because it is against the laws.”
A couple of weeks ago, council embarked on a blitz code-named “Street Vending Regedzai” (Stop illegal street vending) where it arrested over 100 vendors for operating illegally in the central business district.
Council spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi said vendors should be guided by the city vending by-laws.
“We urge all vendors to use designated vending sites, pay vending fees and adhere to the minimum regulations as espoused by the city vending by-laws,” Gwindi said.