THE fuel crisis in the country is slowly deepening and spreading to other facets of society, with the City of Harare warning that it may not be able to collect waste in the city’s neighbourhoods’ as its refuse collection trucks were now grounded.
Such a development clearly demonstrates that the city of government is in a dire state. Hence there is need for quick intervention, failure of which the situation could further worsen.
Tragically, the city has always been battling these deep-seated service delivery problems without let-up due to poor governance systems, interference and politicking between the governing party Zanu PF and the opposition MDC, which controls most urban settlements.
While it is understandable that the fuel crisis is a national problem, Town House cannot be exonerated from its own mismanagement.
The municipality has admitted that it cannot do its core business because of the fuel crisis, yet they have kept their executive wheels on the roads at the expense of the residents and ratepayers. It boggles the mind why the city fathers have neglected their public duty at this critical period.
Citizens do not want to hear of excuses, but solutions to the problems bedevilling society. Refuse collection has to happen at any costs. Ratepayers will always demand service delivery. As an essential service, did the city engage any players in the fuel sector to make special arrangements? Why does the city not partner with players in the private sector who have the capacity to deliver?
While we understand, too, that privatising the service might have negative impacts in a society which is not comfortable with handing over critical services to private players, the local authority has done a poor job at justifying its monopoly. It is high time we considered public–private partnership, where efficiency and affordability are guaranteed.
Despite the fuel situation, private corporations — key players in the economy — have remained afloat, providing their service to the public due to their efficient manner and need to remain in business. Even the least professionally-run commuter omnibuses are still finding a way round the fuel shortages. How then will all local authorities justify their demand for the payment of bills by residents?
It is not only waste collection; some suburbs have gone for weeks on end without water supplies. Heaps of waste and lack of potable water during the rainy season makes perfect breeding ground for waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
Only last year, 10 800 cases of cholera were reported, forcing authorities to declare a state of emergency. Zimbabwe cannot afford another disease outbreak, not now, not again!