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#Covid-19, residents demand water in battle to combat deadly epidemic and avert crisis

by Stephen Jakes
02 Apr 2020 at 13:05hrs | Views
A RESIDENTS' representative group has hauled Chitungwiza Municipality and central government to court seeking an order compelling them to urgently act and ensure provision of water to residents at a time of the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.

In an urgent chamber application filed at High Court on Tuesday Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest) protested against the pro-longed lack of running tap water supplies and said residents were experiencing erratic and at times no provision of safe and adequate water for domestic use.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights say the situation, Chitrest argued has now been compounded by the imposition of the 21-day national lockdown to help combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Chitrest said Chitungwiza Municipality and central government had failed to discharge their constitutional obligations of ensuring the provision of running water to residents and this was a breach of several of residents' fundamental rights such as the right to water as provided in section 77 of the Constitution, the right to human dignity guaranteed in section 51 of the Constitution, the right to health care enshrined in section 76 of the Constitution.

The residents also said their right to freedom from torture guaranteed in section 53 of the Constitution was also being violated and this was arising from the conduct of respondents, who besides Chitungwiza Municipality were listed as Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo, Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo and Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube.

In the application, Chitrest together with its Director Alice Kuvheya, who is also a resident of Chitungwiza located about 25 kilometres outside Harare and are represented by Tonderai Bhatasara and Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, charged that members of Zimbabwe Republic Police were dispersing several people gathered at various water points including public and private boreholes to fetch water for domestic use.

Lack of access to water, Chitrest said, was leading to the violation of the right to life provided under section 48 of the Constitution directly or indirectly through contracting deadly diseases that are waterborne. The risk, the residents argued, was further magnified by the outbreak of coronavirus which requires greater hygiene that includes washing hands with soap and water, which is only possible if there is potable water for domestic use.

Chitrest argued that in order for residents to fully comply with government regulations and the spirit of the national lockdown as urged by Moyo, the Health and Child Care Minister and in collaboration with some international organisations such as World Health Organisation, it is imperative that all people must exercise personal hygiene and therefore some measures must urgently be put in place for them to access water in their homes or at some points in a manner which will not increase the spread of coronavirus.

Chitungwiza Municipality and central government, Chitrest said, have neglected or refused to put such measures or to comply with their constitutional obligations.

Chitungwiza Municipality, Chitrest said must during the duration of the national lockdown period ensure provision of safe, adequate, potable and uninterrupted water supply to all residents of Chitungwiza and make water available from bulk water suppliers including indicating the location of the water bowsers and distribute it in Chitungwiza to avoid the grouping of big crowds at the water points in a way that ensures the combating of the spread of coronavirus.

Chitungwiza Municipality, Chitrest said should provide crowd control officers to ensure that people accessing water at various points do so in a manner complying with the social distancing guidelines as specified in various and lockdown directives issued by government.

Ncube, Chitrest said, must provide financial resources to implement measures to ensure provision and access to water by residents.

Chitungwiza Municipality, Chitrest said should periodically notify the residents' representative body and residents of Chitungwiza on safety and general hygiene that is water related in light of the coronavirus through all medium of communication and such should also be accessible to people living with disabilities and the visually impaired and the deaf.

The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.

Source - Byo24News