Chinhoyi's life of death

CHINHOYI - It is mid-morning and a five-year-old Tamai routinely joins his age mates to make a plastic ball to toss around.

The routine turns smelly when he grabs a black plastic bag dripping with human waste.

The disgusting picture of kids picking up plastics with human waste or used pampers is a sad reality in Chinhoyi’s town’s oldest suburb of Mupata.

Such has been life since birth and Tamai is likely to make do with such a situation in the foreseeable future as government and local authority officials ponder over a $2,9 million sewer tender feud.

Councillors are divided over the project to repair an ageing sewerage system. Some policy makers accepted recommendations made by consultants Brian Colquhoun Hugh O’Donnell and Partners but others resisted the move.

Established in the early 1960s, Mupata remains one of filthiest areas to live in and nearly 100 people share two public toilets.

Chinhoyi is Mashonaland West provincial capital, situated about 115 kilometres northwest of Harare.

Matinetsa Gezani is one of the residents who have lived here for ages without private toilets.

“We are forced to use buckets in our homes. The public toilet is so messy that we cannot bear it anymore.

It is pathetic for the kids here,” Gezani tells Daily News on Sunday from her two roomed “home”.

A widow and tuberculosis patient since 2009, she is looking after seven children, four of them are her late sister’s.

Another resident, 60-year-old Violet Makumbe says council has failed Mupata residents terribly.

“Our toilets are always dirty and it affects young kids mostly as they can play around even with human waste. It is a health time bomb,” she says.

Itai Kaswa, a 38-year-old who professes to be a commercial sex worker,  says the 2008 cholera epidemic that killed over 4 000 countrywide spared Mupata through God’s grace.

“We are used to dirt,” she says.

It gets bad when people paid to fix the problem join in the whining.

Ward 2 councillor Nicholas Mutsunge says due to water rationing, sewer pipes burst whenever water was restored.

“Water is cut off around 8am and restored in the evening and it affects residents here as well as in Gadzema area where they spend whole day without running water,” says Mutsunge.

Most of those living in the squalid conditions are unemployed lodgers and commercial sex workers frequenting nearby nightclubs, including a municipal beer hall without running water.

Suspended Chinhoyi mayor Claudius Nyamhondoro is bitter that the sewer project is taking too long to be implemented.

“Council got $2,9 million from Treasury last year that could have rehabilitating the sewer pipes but residents are still waiting for change. It is unfortunate and the tender standoff is greatly affecting the poor kids and other residents. There is no justification of this poor service delivery when the money is available,” says Nyamhondoro, who is fighting his suspension by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo for defying a ministerial directive over the sewer tender.

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