BULAWAYO residents have engaged private laboratories to run independent tests on the city’s water after five children reportedly succumbed to diarrhoea due to contaminated water being pumped to Luveve high-density suburb by the local authority.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU/ PATRICIA SIBANDA
The five children are said to have died between Thursday last week and Sunday, with residents insisting that “the cause might be the contaminated water they receive from council”.
The Southern Eye visited Luveve where some residents were bedridden complaining of severe stomach pain and vomiting. A grieving mother said a visit to council offices did not yield desired results as officials said the water had been contaminated by her dirty containers.
“I lost my daughter who was in Grade 4 and we have since laid her to rest. When we told them (council) about the water, they told us that it’s because we use dirty containers. The water is smelly and contains dark particles,” she said.
“They did not even send people on the ground to check the water. It’s like they do not care about what is happening to us. What we wish for is if they could allow us to go and get treated at the clinics maybe for free because as of now we do not have the $96 user fee. Or if maybe they can allow us to get treated and maybe we pay the money once we get it. The situation is getting out of hand, even the lady that l live with, she just went out now to the clinic because her child is also sick.”
It has been more than a fortnight after the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) first reported that it had collected samples for testing following complaints from residents who got sick after consuming tap water. Council health services director Edwin Sibanda on Sunday told the media that the local authority was awaiting the results.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu blamed council for the health crisis.
“We have engaged private laboratories and the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) to run tests on the water specimens that we have acquired from Luveve residents and other areas in Bulawayo as well,” Ndlovu said. BCC recently implemented a 144-hour water-rationing programme following the decommissioning of three supply dams.
“On several occasions, the BCC has been called to witness these incidents and take samples of the water for analysis,” Ndlovu added.
“After attending to these several reports and witnessing the contaminated water, it is distasteful for the local authority to release a statement that places the fault on the residents’ containers, citing them as the reason why they are falling sick and suffering from diarrhoea.”
Opposition party Zapu threatened to protest against the BCC in a bid to save lives if the local authority continued pumping dirty and foul smelling water to households.
“…because there is evidence of a pending health disaster because of the contaminated water, advice that was totally ignored by the arrogant city council,” said Brian Ncube, the Zapu national youth chairperson.