BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
A HEALTH hazard is looming in Chitungwiza’s Unit M where over 100 families are experiencing incessant sewage blockages and overflows.
In separate interviews with NewsDay, residents expressed fears of an outbreak of waterborne diseases like diarrhoea, typhoid and cholera.
They attacked the Chitungwiza Municipality for failing to act on the health hazard amid reports that council officials were cashing on the crisis, and selling sewer disinfectants.
“Our toilet has not been working for over a year and as a result, we relieve ourselves at other people’s houses. We help these people to buy toilet disinfectants,” said Vongai Dirwayi.
“When there is heavy rain, sewage flows into the house and we are forced to remove property. I have engaged the council more than 10 times and now I am tired.”
Tanatswa Ruzvidzo told NewsDay that the sewer crisis had turned her into a “plumber”, while Snodia Stafuren said she was forced to visit relatives with her family to relieve
“We are now plumbers. We are now used to the stench and at times, worms are seen in the house. Some council officials suggested that we should put septic tanks, but that’s expensive. For them to do plumbing, they demand in excess of US$10 for each visit,” Ruzvidzo said.
Another resident, Mai Tauruvinga, said: “Visitors no longer come because of sewage as they are not used to its smell. This has taught us that we should vet prospective councillors before voting for them.”
Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trust Chitungwiza chairperson Orbert Matsika blamed the council for the sewage crisis facing Unit M residents.
“This problem has lasted for a long time. This was mainly caused by houses built on the main sewer. Over 15 houses were built on the main sewer line near the late Chinx Chingaira area. This could be the major cause. The other reason is that people fill squat chambers with sand and cloth,” he said.
“The council is largely to blame. Its procrastination would cost residents heavily. Authorities at Seke South council offices sleep on duty to an extent that we end up calling the acting clerk Evangelista Machona. It should not be like that.”
Council spokesperson Lovemore Meya described Unit M as a sewer blockage hotspot. “Unit M is a hotspot. The biggest problem there is siltation and also due to minimal water supply, the velocity at which waste is transported will be slow subsequently causing blockages,” he said.
“Obviously houses built on top of the main sewer line also contribute to this problem. Imagine a situation where we would want to clear the line, we would not be able to work because of the houses.”
Last year Chitungwiza was allocated $1,087 million under the African Development Bank’s ZimFund for sewer reticulation as part of the Urgent Water Supply and Sanitation Rehabilitation project Phase I and Phase II.
According to Meya, part of the money was used to drill boreholes and purchase material to rehabilitate sewer in some areas like Zengeza 4
Chitungwiza’s water and sewer infrastructure was constructed over 50 years ago and was designed to cater for only about a third of its current
500 000 population.
- Follow Tafadzwa on Twitter @Tafadzw_Kachiko