Local authorities and the public must be responsible in waste disposal and management to reduce risk of diseases such as cholera and typhoid when the country is battling Covid-19, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndhlovu said yesterday.
Leading the national clean up in Harare, in the company of Minister of State for Harare Engineer Oliver Chidawu, senior officials from the Environmental Management Agency, and representatives from PSMI, Zimbabwe Sunshine Group and Zimstart among others, he was clearing garbage and litter from Fifth Street and Ahmed ben Bella Avenue.
In his address after the clean-up, Minister Ndhlovu urged all business that have re-opened to keep the environment clean safe and healthy all the time to reduce disease outbreaks.
“This month’s national clean up day comes amid efforts by the Government to contain the Covid-19 infections associated with the second wave of the pandemic.
“As such, the national clean-up programme remains critical as a means towards promotion of a clean, safe and healthy environment, today and beyond, hence the day should be observed to promote cleanliness in our society in principle and practice.
“As we battle this novel virus, we need not to worsen our situation by creating other disease outbreaks, when we fail to handle waste properly, hence increasing the risk of epidemics such as cholera and typhoid; and even other vector spread ailments including malaria,” he said.
Minister Ndhlovu also challenged local authorities to be efficient in refuse removal.
“The major obstacle to the success of this programme is failure by local authorities to meet the demand of refuse removal resulting in massive littering and dumping of waste in the environment.
“May I call all local authorities to collect waste as scheduled and not put the lives of the people and the integrity of the environment at risk. Above all, local authorities should refocus towards adopting green pathways in waste management which are sustainable and thus a development game changer,” he said.
He said it was a statutory requirement that local authorities and other entities generating waste, except at household level, to produce and implement a waste management plan with targets as the strict adherence to the plan by every generator of waste will result in an environmentally sound waste management pathway.
He expressed concern over careless disposal of surgical masks by public during this second wave of the pandemic which he said had negative impact on the environment and could also transmit the virus.
“During this pandemic era, the national clean-up program places emphasis on ‘a clean environment for a healthy nation’. “Cleanliness of our environment is of both individual and national interest, premised on responsibility and unity of purpose,” he said.