Striking council workers ignore sewer bursts

Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Reporter

No sewer bursts or blockages in Harare are being attended to, with raw sewage left flowing in streets because the responsible council workers are on strike over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the non-payment of December salaries and bonuses.

Harare City Council has also said it has challenges collecting refuse after it temporarily closed Pomona dump-site last week owing to “logistical challenges”.

The reopening date has not been set, with council urging residents not to throw anything away.

Mr Cosmas Bungu of the Harare Municipal Workers Union (HMWU), yesterday said council workers were being exposed to Covid-19 infection as they were using physical contact in cases that simply required PPE.

Last week, Mbare residents complained of having to cope with blocked or burst sewers, a development they said was putting them at the risk of contracting water-borne diseases, including cholera and typhoid.

In Warren Park 1, along 24th Avenue, there is a burst sewer that has not been attended to for months now.

Yesterday, streams of sewage were seen flowing in the area.

Kambuzuma sections 1, 2, 4 and 6 are among the most common hotspots, where are children playing in sewage ponds.

Dzivaresekwa’s busiest street, Pasipanodya, has a rivulet of raw sewage and on Saturday, children could be seen playing in the sewage while some residents were selling all manner of products including vegetables and chicken cuts, across the road from the flowing filth.

There are reports from some areas that some residents have recently been falling into the sewage mainly in the evening as it will be dark given the absence of electricity following faults induced by rains.

In a statement over the closure of Pomona dumpsite since last Thursday, council said the closure was due to logistical challenges.

“Our residents are encouraged to exercise good waste management practises during this period that includes but not limited to waste separation, reducing waste generation through reuse and recycling. The city will roll out a collection schedule in due course for resumption of collections,” said council.

Heaps of garbage are now commonplace in most suburbs due to council’s inefficiency, which has been blaming fuel shortages and the garnishing of its accounts by Zimra, for the failure to provide decent services.

Combined Harare Residents Association programmes manager Mr Reuben Akili said they were worried by the city’s failure to attend to burst sewers on time.

“This is a health time bomb, which can explode any time. Our local authority has not been proactive on this issue,” he said. “We are also warning citizens not to drink water from wells, especially this rainy season when sewage will find its way into wells and boreholes.”

Mr Akili said they were also mobilising residents for possible litigation and petitioning Parliament on the issue.

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