EASTERN NEWS | Mutare soaked wet with sewage

MUTARE - The eastern border city of Mutare is soaked wet with sewage and sinking a borehole would, save for a few locations, most likely lead to people drinking sewage residue.

For years on end, Mutare City Council (MCC) has not been replacing or upgrading its sewage network and it’s now rotten and in perpetual rupture. Most sewage lines are usually bleeding at one point or another and there is always a stream close-by to channel the stinking diseased flow towards. The huge stink that rises from nearly all of these sewage streams and pools clearly points to a poisoned water table. Sakubva River, in which all the streams dump their diseased and toxic cargo, has been an enduring public indictment against the city for decades.

The sewer systems are overwhelmed by the city’s population boom that has not been matched by investment in the system upgrade over the years. Limited resources for maintenance has left the entire infrastructure prone to constant failure.

Sewer line failure was fingered as the major cause of the 2008/9 severe cholera outbreak throughout the country which claimed over 4 000 lives.

Non-action and the deathly silence by health and environmental experts around the city’s management of its sewage has been raised over the years. And the risk of a major disease outbreak in the city has been just as real as the cholera outbreak.

Residents are concerned that there is need for the incoming council to act on the city’s sewage system as this has been a major health risk over the years.

James Matsito, a Mutare resident said the city has been lucky with most water borne disease outbreaks but that luck is not going to be guaranteed forever.“As a city, we need to invest in replacing the entire sewage system particularly in old suburbs like Sakubva and Dangamvura as well as the central business district. We are not going to be always lucky with diseases like cholera, dysentery and typhoid. I think our city fathers are taking the city’s health issues for granted. We may have the cleanest water but that is certainly being cancelled out by the rampant and constant sewer bursts,” Matsito said.

Human rights lawyer Passmore Nyakureba challenged council to prioritise public health, hence repair broken sewage pipes as ignoring it continues to pose a health risk to both the city’s inhabitants and downstream communities.“Council should show regard for public health and deal with the failing sewage system. It should be a guarantor of a clean environment and not be the one to pollute the environment and by so doing endangering people’s lives either within the city or its environs,” Nyakureba said.

Dora residents said they have lost any hope that they would see Sakubva River, a source of water for their market gardening economy, flowing clean anytime soon.

Rudo Zimunya, a vegetable vendor, from the rural community through which the river flows as it exits Mutare said they have since given up on expectations of it as a clean water source.

“Sakubva will never be clean because when we come here selling our vegetables we see all the streams flowing with sewage. Council is using it as sewage dam and I don’t think this will change soon. I personally have never seen Sakubva clean and I don’t expect any changes anytime soon,” Zimunya who is in her late 20s said.

Former town clerk Obert Muzawazi preciously admitted that the pollution of the river and constant sewage outbursts were a huge embarrassment for a city that has often been voted the cleanest in spite of the rivers and streams of sewer in its backyard.

Efforts to get a comment from council were not successful.

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