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'Bulawayo Council guilty of Luveve water crisis'

25 Jun 2020 at 06:59hrs | Views
Since the outbreak of the waterborne disease in Luveve Old and New that has so far claimed 12 lives, while over a thousand have been hospitalized, Bulawayo City Council management have been busy with Public Relations sideshows at the expense of the residents who deserves to know the truth.

Today we visited the area on a fact finding mission as part of the people's revolutionary party MRP's social responsibility and what we found on the ground is completely parallel to what BCC has been telling the public.

The residents we spoke to, told us that they felt insulted by the town clerk's initial statement putting the blame on the affected residents and accusing them of lacking cleanliness, using contaminated buckets, vandalism of pipes and unsafe sources of water. Subsequently all other council communication has been designed to protect the image of council at the expense of the truth much to the chagrin of residents.

Last Friday on the 19th of June BCC leadership took the visiting Minister of local government July Moyo from Harare to Luveve where they showed him some vegetable gardens and small water wells which people dig around wetlands and or near water runways, where sewage from burst pipes find it's way from time to time as the main reason for the diarrhea outbreak in the area. Bulawayo City Council further submitted that the water rationing is also the problem.

We have no problem with all their explanations, what we are worried about is their deliberate attempt to generalise the Luveve problem, and putting the blame on residents. The residents we spoke to were clearly not amused by that.

It is public knowledge that Bcc is one of the best run councils by Zimbabwean standards. Therefore there is no need for BCC to be concerned about PR at the expense of service delivery, at this moment in time.

According to Luveve residents the water that caused the diarrhea outbreak was pumped from the council reservoirs to their tapes, therefore Bulawayo City Council is guilty of the mess in Luveve, they must own up and take full responsibility for pumping dirty water to residents.

If we are to take Bulawayo City Council management's explanations about the problem in Luveve then the problem must have affected the whole of Bulawayo since watershading has been taking place across the city, the said vegetable gardens are everywhere in all high density suburbs and are watered by the same water sources, why only Luveve is affected?

Luveve is not a crowded suburb, and it is not in anyway dirty. It is an insult to the residents of that suburb to accuse them of not being clean. Bulawayo water crisis have been with us for decades now, and people now have multiple water buckets which they have been using since, why haven't they been sick before?

The residents suspect that one of the sewer pipes might have broken and caused sawage to flow into the tape water, but since BCC is denying this then they must give us a reasonable explanation not this nonsense of blaming the victims of their own doing. It is our considered view that the council is refusing to take full responsibility for supplying dirty water for fear of being sued for compensation.

Nevertheless we believe that the council is guilty and must compensate the victims particularly the families of those who have lost their loved ones because of this. Otherwise the council must explain why dirty and smelling water was allowed into residents' tapes as shown in many videos posted online as well as was confirmed to us today by residents?

As of today we were shown three houses where there are funerals for the victims of the contaminated water. While most of the many different family members in the area are seriously sick because of diarrhea outbreak some are admitted at Mpilo Hospital.

It is our duty to demand accountability, transparency as well as service delivery from both the local and central government. Therefore Bulawayo City Council must take full responsibility of their messy in Luveve and fix it. Residents deserves to know the truth and be told the truth. Water has been running for weeks now in Luveve and Bcc has been consistent supplying tape water to Luveve since the diarrhea outbreak was made public. They are doing this in an attempt to silence the residents and give an impression that the problem was not caused by their water.

Meanwhile we have observed for sometime now that BCC is subcontracting some private companies to fix it's sewer system, something that was normally done by city council itself. Even refuse removal is now done by private companies, what criteria is used to contract those people? Is this not another self enrichment program by unscrupulous individuals within council management and councillors?  Is council saving or spending more?

Mbonisi Solomon Gumbo is a member of MRP writing in his personal capacity.

Source - Mbonisi Gumbo
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