The City of Harare is facing a serious challenge with sewer bursts, with council taking more than three months to attend to reports, a development which is putting residents at risk of contracting water borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
The situation has been worsened by allegations that some of the city’s plumbers are demanding payment in forex from the residents for them to attend to their reports.
A month-long observation across some suburbs in the city showed that there was a potential health hazard as Harare City Council officials are taking forever to repair the sewer bursts. In Warren Park 1 along 24th Avenue, there is a perennial sewer burst that has not been attended to over the last two weeks. Yesterday, streams of sewage were seen still flowing in the areas.
The situation was the same in Rugare’s Nyashanu Street.
“We reported a burst pipe on November 22, but it has not been attended to as yet,” said a resident Warren Park 1, who preferred to be identified as Mai Tino.
Kambuzuma sections 1, 2, 4 and 6 are among the most affected areas, with children playing in some of streams and ponds of sewer.
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) programmes manager Mr Reuben Akili said they were worried by the city’s failure to attend to sewer bursts on time.
“This is a health time bomb, which can explode any time,” he said.
“Our local authority has not been proactive on this issue. We are also warning citizens not to drink water from wells, especially this rainy season when sewer will find its way into wells and boreholes. We had reports from Kambuzuma where a family had diarrhoea due to these unattended sewer bursts. Wwe are also mobilising residents for possible litigation and petitioning Parliament on the issue.”
Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trust Mr Shalvar Chikomba said sewer bursts were now the order of the day.
Harare Residents Alliance Director Prince Tough Mupindu said clean water and sanitation were fundamental requirements for a healthy society.
“The preserve of a clean city can never be emphasised enough, time and time again we have had a half-hearted attempt at solving such basic issues,” he said.
In an interview yesterday, Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said: “We are fixing all problem areas and encouraging residents to report any bursts for quick response.”