Stop passing buck on typhoid

HARARE - The ministerial taskforce is not being sincere when they blame food vending for the recent typhoid outbreak in Harare while absolving themselves from the mess.

Instead of giving vendors a 48-hour ultimatum to cease operations in the Harare metropolitan area, the ministers should actually have given themselves such a deadline to attend to uncollected garbage which is littered all over the city; repair all burst sewage pipes in most high density areas and provide residents with clean water.

The vending ban, which was formulated by a joint taskforce of ministries of Health, Local Government, Environment and Small to Medium Enterprises, is ostensibly meant to curb the spread of typhoid.

While food vending in the Harare metropolitan area can be a contributing factor to the spread of typhoid, the cause of the 132 suspected cases reported so far in high density areas is burst sewers, filthy toilets and dirty water.

Images captured by the media in areas like Mbare Flats are quite disturbing. In several high density areas of Harare, burst sewage pipes are the norm while in certain cases, solid waste streams through people’s homes.

The responsible authorities have, over the years, failed to promptly attend to these burst sewer pipes, but with the current rains, the problem seems to be getting worse as the waste is being washed, hence spreading at an alarming pace.

Heaps of uncollected garbage in most high density areas and in the Central Business District (CBD) has of late been pounded by rains, turning them into fertile grounds for water-borne diseases while most drainage systems are dysfunctional, resulting in swamps of stagnant, dirty and smelly water.

In most high density areas, children are seen playing in dirty water, which has also flooded some houses, destroying property, soaking blankets and clothes.

The water ponds in most high density areas have also been breeding basins for mosquitoes.

Harare’s 48-hour ultimatum to the vendors to cease and desist from vending in the CBD is just an empty threat because this is not the first time vendors have been threatened with eviction, but they continue unmoved.

Past events have shown that Harare City Council has no capacity to remove street vendors from the streets and, this time around, it will just be the same old story.

The city fathers have in the past threatened to remove illegal taxis (mushikashika) from the CBD but nothing has happened.

They also mooted the idea of creating a holding bay for kombis outside the CBD but that worked for a few days and they have since abandoned the idea as the kombis are now back in the CBD causing frightening congestion.

This time they think they can remove food vendors from the city, my foot!

Harare would need a lot of manpower to effect this ban and this means having its police units working overtime.

There are two kinds of vendors, one set operating in daytime, while the other streams into the city around 5pm when most people knock off from work.

In the past, authorities tried to enlist the services of uniformed forces, including soldiers, to remove the vendors but they were forced to back down on the plan.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police can be effective in beefing up municipal police operations but the question is whether Harare has approached them.

Without the help of uniformed forces, the City Council’s municipal police will find the going tough as the vendors have vowed to stay put.

Harare has to revisit its strategy if it wants to fight and contain typhoid; it has to attend to sewage pipe bursts, give people clean water and collect garbage.

Nothing more, nothing less!

Comments (1)

Aptly presented. The ministers have to appease their installer to the task force, the clueless lot resort to bans and ultimatums to justify the huge allowance that comes with the extra you those allowances have already been paid. If they had any iota of humanity they would forgo that allowance and it could clear all gabage in high density for a month.

Sinyo - 14 January 2017

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