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Sewerage crisis in Makokoba

by Staff reporter
04 Feb 2021 at 05:56hrs | Views
RESIDENTS of Makokoba suburb in Bulawayo are sitting on a health time-bomb as effluent continues to flow from burst pipes into their homes, leaving them prone to water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

This comes at a time the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is struggling to render effective service resulting in unattended sewer pipe bursts and uncollected garbage in the city centre and residential areas. Makokoba is one of the oldest suburbs in Bulawayo and was established by colonialists to accommodate bachelors who worked in factories in the city.

The population of residents has swelled without a corresponding upgrade of infrastructure, putting severe strain on facilities. About 18 000 people live in about 4 800 houses in the tiny suburb.

A news crew yesterday visited Makokoba and observed that in some parts, pipes were spewing effluent into houses with children playing in pools of raw sewage. At Siphambaniso residential flats, sewage was flowing through the street and some of it was seeping into nearby houses.

Residents said the sewer reticulation system was so bad that if a person upstairs flushes a toilet, the raw waste is discharged into kitchens downstairs.

Along 11th Street a manhole was emitting untreated sewage into the street. Piles of rotting garbage lay uncollected along the same street.

 Near a council beerhall, children were playing barefoot in effluent.

Disgruntled residents accused BCC of neglecting its duties which could result in the outbreak of water-borne diseases such cholera and typhoid. They said they are living in fear of contracting diseases, a development that is likely to worsen their plight in light of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

"We have been encountering these challenges of constant sewer pipe bursts for several years and my fear is that if this problem is not addressed, we are going to die of typhoid and cholera as the sewer bursts expose us to diseases. Remember we are also living in the unprecedented times of Covid-19 and it is important to maintain high standards of hygiene to fight this virus," said Miss Buhle Sibanda of Siphambaniso Flats.

"What is even more worrying is that we pay our rates, but sadly council is giving us a raw deal by failing to address our problems."

Another resident, Mr Nesbuit Neshiri said: "We have children playing in these sewer ponds making them more vulnerable as they are exposing themselves to diseases. Everywhere its sewer flowing and this is a health hazard."

Mr Elton Tshuma who has been staying in the suburb for 26 years, said sewer pipe bursts have become more frequent over the years and council was failing to cope.

"The city council does a shoddy job because even if they come and attend to sewer bursts, you will find that a few days later, the same problem resurfaces and this is largely because these pipes are now old and need to be replaced," he said.

Residents said they are now forced to fix the pipes in their homes at their own expense since the council is failing to attend to their problems.

The chairperson of residents at Siphambaniso Flats, Ms Opah Sibanda said despite reporting sewer bursts, council continued to ignore their pleas.

"We are sitting on a health time bomb and maybe council wants to act when they start to see people dying of water-borne diseases.

"Already there is Covid-19 yet the local authority is not prioritising the issues of sewer pipe bursts," she said.

Councillor Shadreck Sibanda of Ward 7, which covers Makokoba, said due to the ongoing lockdown, council is struggling to address some of the challenges faced by residents as most workers are not reporting for work. He admitted that the pipes were now old and dilapidated and should be replaced.

"The national lockdown imposed by the Government to curb the coronavirus has brought challenges in delivering services to residents as most workers are not reporting for work.

"The sewer systems are dilapidated such that even if you fix them, they will continue to burst and there are many areas around the city that need to be attended to," Cllr Sibanda.

He said only 16 percent of residents are paying rates as a majority of them are unemployed, thus affecting council's revenue inflows and service delivery.

Cllr Sibanda urged residents to be patient and promised that the problems will be rectified after lockdown.

Source - chronicle