BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
DEMAND for burial space at Gweru council cemeteries has increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, mayor Josiah Makombe has revealed.
In his state of the city address, Makombe said the three local authority-run cemeteries were overwhelmed, mainly as a result of the manual grave-digging system.
“COVID-19 has really raised the demand for graves,” he said.
“Gweru has three cemeteries in the city, namely Senga, Central (Mtasa) and Mkoba.
“Our main challenge is that grave digging is being done manually. We meet challenges where surfaces are rocky, for example at Senga cemetery. We are still in the process of trying to automate grave digging if funds permit.”
Makombe said there had been an increase in deaths due to the coronavirus, which in turn had pushed upwards the need for burial space in the city.
The other council cemetery, Mtapa, closed a few years ago as there was no more space for burials.
The 12-hectare graveyard was declared to be full, with the only space left being that of people that paid for burial space in
Meanwhile, Makombe said the city’s health department was strained as a result of the pandemic.
“The city’s health department is hard hit by the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, which has strained our workforce,” he said.
“Although we have so far managed to effectively respond to COVID-19 cases with almost 80% of all contacts (COVID-19 contacts) having been followed up, the emerging pandemic has seen our health facilities getting strained as our medical equipment is technologically not up to date.”