BY NHAU MANGIRAZI
A HEALTH time bomb is ticking in the farming town of Karoi after council settled vendors in an open space without water and toilets.
Karoi is currently a hive of activity following the opening of tobacco auction floors and the informal traders have invaded the Mashonaland West town anticipating rich pickings from farmers, who are selling their tobacco.
The new trading space for the vendors has sparked outrage from residents and rural communities, who said the council was failing on its service delivery mandate.
The vending area is situated near shops commonly known as PamaIndia, between the town centre and Chikangwe high-density suburb.
Health officials have also been raising concern since mid-March after vendors were pushed out of a closed property in the town centre.
A farmer from Kazangarare, Donald Kubaka, said the vendors have since resorted to using nearby bushes to relieve themselves.
‘‘Commuter buses around Hurungwe are using this (open space) as a rank, but there are no toilets. It is unhealthy and authorities must help as a matter of urgency,’’ Kubaka said.
Karoi Development Agenda (KDA), a civil rights organisation, recently said the move exposed the council’s failure to deliver on its mandate.
‘‘It is unfortunate that Karoi Town Council has neglected Chikangwe bus rank amnesties for travellers and there is a need to fully utilise it so that the council can collect revenue and improve service delivery,” KDA said.
“The toilets to be used for the new rank in town are not adequate, hence we are afraid this might lead to the outbreak of waterborne diseases. We are appealing to the council to fully utilise the Chikangwe terminus while making the area in town a drop-off point. This will help in the decongestion of our CBD [central business district].”
Council spokesperson Precious Nharara said the local authority had provided adequate toilets for vendors who are operating legally.
‘‘Those trading legally next to the flea market zone next to Gain Cash n Carry are sheltered in council-constructed flea market sheds, and there are ablution facilities at the site in compliance with public health requirements, and for the traders’ convenience,’’ said Nharara in a written response to NewsDay questions.
He also said council was aware of illegal vending taking place outside permitted areas.
“It is pertinent to note that the ablution facilities at the flea market sheds are open for use by everyone in spite of the nature of activities being undertaken. Construction of the ablution facility behind CBZ Bank is complete and it will be available for use.
“There is another relief facility behind Gain, in addition to the pay washroom along the highway adjacent to OK Supermarket. Council is in continuous engagement with investors in terms of assisting with the establishment of more public convenience facilities in the town centre,” Nharara added.
“Council is running an awareness exercise to let tobacco growers know that the companies they sell their tobacco to are obligated to provide convenience facilities. As a council, we are seriously following up on various investors’ commitments to provide bins for waste disposal.”
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