Living a pipe dream or work in progress?

They live in the midst of awful situations that range from uncollected garbage, to bumpy, potholed and dirty roads, to long and uncut grass, to rundown drainage and sewer systems. The list is endless.

The issues extend to their households where putting a decent meal on the table is a nightmare and if they do, it is nothing but a miracle. Move around the older suburbs such as Highfield, Mbare, Mufakose, Kambuzuma, Dzivarasekwa, Tafara, Mabvuku and others, and you witness decay. Indeed, there are people, but the state of the houses and infrastructure makes you wonder.

You ask difficult questions — why is it so difficult to restore our own dignity?
Why is the ghetto only good when people are escaping whatever stresses they have?

Once they turn their backs, nothing changes, for you do not see them coming back to take away the misery.
Instead, they tell you that the ghetto is the place to hang out, and when they are free, they touch base with the hood to unwind.
But when they see some of the landmarks that that I will briefly describe, it’s as if they are bereft of conscience.

This is why this week I ask not only Harare’s City fathers, but Mufakose’s political representatives and its affluent children why it is so normal that the concrete pipes in the pictures below should be allowed to not only lie idle for years, but also break apart, while leakages continue, and while burst pipes are a normal part of people’s lives.

The concrete sewer pipes in the pictures are lined at different points along Kafudzamombe Street and Muonde Road close to Mhishi Shopping Centre. The state of the pipes tells you that they were delivered at different time frames.

I asked a number of residents when the pipes were delivered and for what purpose.
Although none of them gave definitive dates, what was clear was that the older pipes were delivered more than a decade ago, while the newer once were delivered around 2007.

The residents said that they had gathered that they were meant to refurbish the sewer system.
If that was the goal, why are they idle, with some broken and unusable now?
If they can break apart in so short a period, were they appropriate in the first place?

A former Harare City Council official who declined to be named said that the old “450mm concrete sewer pipes” most of which are damaged at the corners were delivered in 1997for Kafudzamombe upgrading in order to relieve sewer flow.

I also gathered that the newer ones, the asbestos cement pipes were delivered in 2007 since the concrete pipes were damaged.
They were delivered together with manhole rings for junction feeds and maintenance.

So, is this a “pipe dream” or work in progress?
Pipe dream has various definitions. Different sources say it is “a fantastic hope or plan that is generally regarded as being nearly impossible to achieve; a vain dream that will never happen, given the harsh reality of life; or, a dream that is so unrealistic that you would have to be smoking a crack pipe to believe it could come true.”

This is how I pictured these pipes. I was told that the project still needs to be completed in order to cater for increased sewage flows, but the question is: Finished with another set of pipes, the PVC ones considering that they are being used to refurbish pipes in Harare’s Central Business District?

I also noted that the period when these pipes were delivered in Mufakose was when some of the construction materials used to make the pipes were not only in short supply, but were also very expensive.

On May 15, I heard Harare City Council Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi saying on ZTV that all the assets underground need to be replaced because they are too old.
But the million dollar question is: when such a huge investment has been made in procuring materials, why has this project not moved?
I also ask the MDC-T parliamentarians and councilors for Mufakose what they have done about such a waste of resources.

The stark contrast is that these huge sewer pipes lie idle in a community where many families are suffering immensely.
If they are meant to refurbish the sewer system, why is it that they seem to have such a short shelf life — falling apart in less than a decade, while the system they are meant to replace has been in place for more than five decades?

How much has this idle project cost the rate payers, and will the continued exposure see all of them completely damaged?
Does it mean that residents are the losers again?

As water and sewer pipes continue to burst, residents are also wondering whether someone keen to maximise on their votes will this time around take note of this eyesore, and do something positive about it. They cannot forever live in fear of cholera and other water borne diseases, when a solution seems so near, but yet so far away.

But for now, let the people use them as “benches”, while churches, political parties and musical groups also stick posters of their forthcoming events.
But no doubt about it, someone also smiled all the way to the bank!

You Might Also Like