Chitungwiza sewage generation

HARARE - Back in the days when Chitungwiza was still Chi-Town, residents would regularly complain how cows from nearby Seke village were fouling their neighbourhood.

Today, they barely take notice when their own waste flows freely along streets and at times into homes.

The tar is all worn out, giving way to dusty patches and deep potholes but the state of roads can only be a minor problem in a town which has fallen from being a model dormitory set up to a wretched habitat.

The million plus residents in the country’s third most populous urban area which lies 30 kilometres south of the capital Harare do not blink at the sight of small, street dams of their own waste forming on the potholes on roads, a few metres from fireplaces where meals are prepared.

Electricity is a rarity here.

A stink that blasts one’s nostrils passes for the welcome sign to St Marys, the oldest suburb in Chitungwiza.

A kilometre down the main road linking to the Town Centre, which only a decade ago stood as the pride of the town, a raw sewage rivulet runs through the lanes.

The rivulet is now a permanent feature of the road.

Its actual name is Rufaro Road but only the old timers remember this name. Parwizi (The river) is the name coined by residents who are enduring a life of dirt and neglect.

They are so used to the stench of raw sewage, the unsightly crusts of human waste at the dry “banks” and the incessant buzz of flies that are coining their own names helps make light work of their grave situation.

Residents say it also helps “give life” to their conditions and without a caring council, they can only watch enviously as other creatures feast at their misery.

Road-runner chickens — a favourite meal for many urbanites missing their rural upbringing — feast on the flies. The flies are feasting on the human waste. The chickens are later found in the food chain.

For the humans, a new generation has been born, the “sewage generation”.

While it is hop, skip and jump for adult folks who have seen better times, innocent children play their games on the streets, the human waste in the mix. They are comfortable and see no problem at all.

After all, they were born into it.

The sewage is flowing continuously with little or no action being taken by council authorities except a few recently dumped pipes and a labelled truck pumping out waste from sewage ponds.

However, to the sewage-polluted residents in Zengeza, this is too little too late and smell a stink on the reaction by council.

“It has been on-going now for eight or nine months. You would have the odd times where a few workmen come and do something, but after three or so days it gets worse. Do you think that this waste removal truck will be here the whole time? Someone is benefitting here,” says Lloyd Matakula, a Zengeza resident.

Matakula says a long term solution and not such piecemeal measures are needed.

Neglected by a council which came on an MDC ticket and now condemned by both residents and government as one of the most corrupt, residents are finding their own ways of coping.

“In our homes, we have sacks full of sand on standby to use in the toilet when the tank bursts. Otherwise the whole house would be flooded,” laments a woman who refused to be named, saying she did not want her identity publicly associated with such a life.

Another resident Alois Tapfumaneyi blames poor planning by council authorities.

“There used to be a drain here and the sewage would flow through, but council filled it with sand fearing that it will flood that illegal infill in Zengeza 5,” says Tapfumaneyi, adding that the solution lies in voting out incompetent and corrupt councillors.

“What we need here is voter education. Can you imagine that the councillor for this ward Karuru, heads the town’s health committee but his ward is flooded with raw sewage,” he says resignedly.

According to Tapfumaneyi, the rot is in the council where money-seeking councillors and officials mainly are issuing more than 250 000 infill stands out of a planned 50 000.

Established in 1978 from three townships — Seke, Zengeza, and St Marys — Chitungwiza boomed in the 1990s but has seen infrastructure and basic service delivery deteriorate over the years.

Town authorities are quick to shake off responsibility.

Contacted for comment, town engineer Alfonse Tinofa laid the blame on state water firm Zinwa for laying substandard pipes and a poor workmanship.

For residents such as Tapfumaneyi, such finger-pointing means it will be a long time before someone takes responsibility while the town’s residents suffers. - Albert Masaka

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.