Paidamoyo Chipunza and Sibongile Maruta
The water and sanitation situation in Chitungwiza’s St Mary’s suburb remains critical as cases of suspected cholera increased to 24 in Harare and Chitungwiza over the past week.
A snap survey of the town by The Herald yesterday indicated that water supplies were still erratic, while untreated sewer bursts were still flowing along the streets, with residents opting for septic tanks as a strategy to contain unattended sewer bursts.
In an interview with The Herald, Mr Believe Bembere, whose father succumbed to suspected cholera on Wednesday last week said the city fathers had neglected the people of St Mary’s, resulting in the emergence of diarrhoeal diseases.
He said the area only received water twice a week, Mondays and Tuesdays, and community boreholes were no longer functioning, leaving people to resort to shallow wells.
Mr Bembere also said sewer bursts were a perennial problem and were not being attended to on time.
“My father started having diarrhoea and vomiting on Tuesday and Wednesday and died on Thursday.
“We do no not know whether it is cholera or not, but we are worried by the sanitation situation in this area,” said Mr Bembere.
Another resident Mr Layton Chidemo blamed the municipality for its reactionary approach to the provision of safe water and sanitation in the area.
He said the sewer bursts were only attended to yesterday morning, but still no disinfectant was sprayed on the spill overs.
He said on Sunday, they said the area would be receiving uninterrupted water supplies, but still some areas had no tap water.
“As you can see, sewerage is still flowing right in front of the house and there is a well close by.
“They only came to attend to the sewer burst because of the outbreak, otherwise they do not come at all. We had to pay private plumbers about $25 in previous months to attend to these bursts,” said Mr Chidemo.
Gogo Angeline Andarasi said most residents have resorted to digging septic tanks as copying strategy to perennial sewer bursts.
“We are no longer using the municipality sewerage system because as residents, we felt it was no longer able to stand the pressure from the increased population.
“The majority of us are now using septic tanks,” said Gogo Andarasi.
Chitungwiza Municipality spokesperson Mr Lovemore Meya blamed the perennial, sewer bursts on ageing systems, saying the municipality was in the process of upgrading all its sewer system.
“At the moment we are rehabilitating sewer systems in Zengeza 5 and our hope is to rehabilitate all ageing sewer pipes in the town, but that is subject to availability of funding,” said Mr Meya.
He said council was also upgrading all public toilets.
Meanwhile, epidemiological disease prevention and control director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Portia Manangazira said 11 cases of cholera have so far been reported in Chitungwiza while 13 were reported in Harare.
She said Government was worried by the continued increases in cases and was working flat out to quickly introduce a vaccine.