Rains expose Byo’s street drainage Bulawayo Deputy Mayor Donaldson Mabutho

Bulawayo Bureau

TORRENTIAL rains over Bulawayo on Saturday exposed the city’s poor storm drainage as evidenced by roads being waterlogged, made worse by undesignated vending operations and littering. 

Due to the clogged drainage, the city centre is prone to flash flooding, which exposes motorists and pedestrians to hazards as well as damage to road infrastructure. 

There was rampant littering in the city centre mainly on streets, with major vending activities such as Sixth Avenue and the vegetable market side.

A lot of the garbage finds its way into the drainage system while some vendors also have a habit of stashing their wares and waste in the drainage. 

Waterlogging coupled with potholes made driving a nightmare in the city.

Following the downpour, the city’s major roads such as Queen Lozikeyi Street, George Silundika Street, and Robert Mugabe Way, which are susceptible to flooding, resembled a river delta because of the poor drainage.

Some people were crossing flooded streets barefoot with shoes in their hands while some parents had to assist their children in crossing the streets.

In interviews, residents yesterday slammed Bulawayo City Council for failing to address the issue of flooding, which has since become a perennial problem during the rainy season.

Residents said if not addressed, the city is likely to witness the recurrence of an outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera. Pools of water are also a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

A resident, Mr Billy Ncube, said it was time for the council to walk the talk in terms of service delivery and challenged the new councillors to find a lasting solution to the city’s major challenges to avert disaster.

“We are fed up with promises and lies, and we are saying the newly elected councillors must prove to the electorate that they were chosen to serve. This culture of people being elected to line their pockets while service delivery suffers cannot be tolerated,” he said.

“As residents, we want to see Bulawayo retaining its former glory. If you look at the situation along Maria Msika Avenue where vendors operate, it’s a disaster because there are no working drainage facilities and the entire place was flooding.”

Mr Ncube said vendors operating in the area are worsening the situation by dumping solid waste everywhere and in the process blocking the storm drainage.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) chairperson Mr Ambrose Sibindi said they had received complaints from residents about the poor drainage.

“There is a lot of dumping and littering by vendors, especially along Maria Msika Avenue resulting in the clogging and blocking of the city’s drainage. When it comes to the council, they need to enforce anti-littering laws and the local authority should also ensure that drainage systems are unclogged before the rainy season,” he said.

Mr Sibindi said as residents, they have an obligation to desist from littering the streets.

 “There is a growing concern where you have people coming to the city centre to dump their rubbish in the city. Bulawayo City Council has a refuse collection regime, which it must follow, and we urge councillors to work hand in hand with all stakeholders to ensure an effective flow of service delivery,” he said.

Bulawayo United Residents Association chairperson, Mr Winos Dube, said the city’s poor drainage is causing serious damage to the city’s infrastructure.

“It is very disappointing to note that we have systems in place to prevent such situations, but they are not considered resulting in our drainage systems collapsing. We have a scenario where the local authority is failing to do proper planning ahead before the rainy season,” he said.

Mr Dube urged the city council to adopt technology by procuring machinery and equipment for unclogging.

“Residents are worried about their property and lives. Some houses get flooded and lots of people lose their property. We challenge the new council to strive for the best and not be a disappointment to the city,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Donaldson Mabutho said council is aware of the challenges facing the city, and promised that they will look into them as a matter of urgency.

“These are pertinent issues, which are being raised by residents and their associations. There are some neighbourhoods and houses that are prone to flooding during the rainy season and we are working with engineers and housing offices to ensure that they engage residents on preventative measures,” he said.

“As we speak, we will be engaging our engineers to look into the city’s drainage systems as a matter of urgency.

“We have identified several roads such as Basch Street, Benjamin Burombo Street, Cephas Cele Avenue and Lobengula Street where there is a high concentration of vendors, and we will be deploying out teams to address the problem.”

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