Garbage is piling in many parts of Harare as the city council has stopped collections, after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) emptied its bank accounts to recover PAYE the council had been deducting from staff each month, but failing to remit to the tax offices.
As a result, the council says it cannot buy fuel for its trucks and there have been delays in salary payments. This has led to an increase in illegal dumpsites as residents have resorted to dumping waste on wetlands and open spaces to avoid it piling on their back yards.
High density areas are particularly badly hit, first because that is where most people live and secondly because hardly anyone can afford to hire the private firm that has taken much of the load in the upper-income suburbs.
Speaking on behalf of the residents, Vimbai Nyachuru, the Youth and Gender chairperson for Combined Harare Residents Association, lamented the state of mushrooming dumpsites in the city’s high density suburbs.
“There is a current situation of poor waste management by Harare City Council, especially in Glen View ward 31,” she said. “The Third Road has developed into an illegal dumpsite and the road is almost closed because of garbage.
“The dumpsite is now less than 50 metres way from the water point (borehole) a source of clean water for the residents of Glen View.
“This culture of not collecting refuse by Harare City Council is exposing the lives of residents at risk of contracting diseases related to unclean environment, especially children who play in the streets. Residents had lodged complaint about these dumpsites to the waste management department at Glen View local district and to no avail.”
Refuse collection and dumpsites clearing in some areas was last done in March 2020 during the first Covid-19 lockdown.
Residents are calling upon the authorities to come up with mechanisms to clear dumpsites around the city as their right to clean environment is being violated. Acting council spokesperson Mr Innocent Ruwende blamed Zimra which garnished $118 million from the council coffers.
“It is not a secret that council has not been able to render proper service delivery due to Zimra garnishee, but works are underway to clear all illegal dumpsites across the city,” he said.
“We have had a backlog, but it is work in progress. We have also issued a refuse collection schedule and we will work according to the schedule to collect all the refuse within the city.”
Meanwhile, Harare City Council will this afternoon shut down its Warren Control Waterworks for 16 hours to pave way for the installation of new water pumps and routine maintenance work, cutting water supplies to swathes of western, south western, north-western and central suburbs.
Maintenance work followed the recent breakdown of two of the pumps at Warren Control Waterworks that has seen reduced water supplies in the city centre, north and north-western suburbs in the past two weeks.
In a statement, the local authority said normal supplies will resume on Tuesday morning.
The shutdown starts at 4pm today and runs until 8am tomorrow and is to repair pumps 6 and 7 on the Alex side which broke down two weeks ago. Council has also urged the residents and stakeholders to use available water sparingly during the shutdown.