BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
THE Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has said local authorities are obliged to respond to sewer bursts within 24 hours.
This was revealed by Ema Harare provincial manager Robson Mavondo during a tour of Chitungwiza last week.
Local authorities have been blamed for late responses to sewer bursts, a situation that has exposed residents to waterborne diseases.
In 2018, cholera hit Glen View in Harare, which resulted in government declaring a state of emergency after it killed more than 20 people and infected more than 2 000 others.
“Chitungwiza has a very serious problem of sewage discharges. Council takes time to respond to this. Here (in Zengeza 4) sewage has been flowing for a long time. We discovered that in August, we issued Chitungwiza council with a prohibition order to start repairing last year,” Mavondo said.
“Whenever there is a sewer burst or blockage in any city, councils should begin to repair them within 24 hours. Thus, if residents see this problem, they can report to us so that we push the council to respond promptly,” he said.
“We give councils 24 hours to start acting. The time taken to repair depends on the type of action needed. We served them an order last month to repair at the main sewer near Total paGomba in Zengeza.”
Chitungwiza resident Solomon Gutuza accused council of taking too long to attend to sewer bursts.
“Sewage has been flowing for two years without any action. Our council’s response is very slow. Whenever we report such problems, we are made to pay US$5 per household. I wonder why they can’t use money from council coffers,” he said.
Mavondo said illegal sand mining and invasion of wetlands was a serious challenge in Chitungwiza.
“We also have a lot of sand-poaching taking place because we no longer have registered mining sites.
“There are also a lot of illegal settlements which were put on ecological sensitive areas. We are, therefore, encouraging local authorities to demolish all structures on wetlands and relocate the affected people to suitable places.
“There should be no construction or building of houses on wetlands. In terms of the law, there should be no houses or activity 30 metres from streams,” Mavondo said.