Health officials have closed Rakodzi High School in Marondera’s Rujeko high-density suburb for fear of disease outbreak owing to raw sewage flowing between classroom blocks.
Yesterday, a Marondera Municipality front-end loader was busy scooping effluent at the school. Mashonaland East provincial medical director Dr Simukai Zizhou had given the local authority one-week to rectify the problem after inspectors found the situation there deplorable.
Provincial education director Mr Sylvester Matshaka said they had also sent inspectors and they could not allow the institution to remain open, especially with the rains approaching. Rakodzi school development committee member, Mr Alois Masaiti, said the problem started last term and they reported it to council but no action was taken.
“We engaged the town engineer and their health inspector and they promised to rectify the problem. The local authority should be considerate and prioritise the health of the public,” Mr Masaiti said.
The MDC-T-led Marondera council has failed to deal with service delivery issues and was fined US$5 000 by the Environment Management Agency in March for its poor sewer reticulation system.
EMA discovered that all four pump stations — Chicago, Rufaro, Dombotombo and Cherutombo — had not been functioning for more than a year. This means no effluent has been going to Elmswood Sewage Treatment Plant over that period and has instead polluted Rufaro Dam.
A group of Jehovah’s Witnesses have abandoned their church building in Rujeko because effluent flows through the premises.
The poor record has seen residents and the business community passing a vote of no confidence in the councillors and management. During a no-holds-barred stakeholders meeting called by the Combined Marondera Residents Association yesterday, a petition was written to Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo to intervene in the crisis. Comara chairman Mr David Chimuzinga said, “We’re concerned that there has been no action from the Ministry of Local Government despite abundant evidence that the town is slowly but surely collapsing.” They cited the perennial sewage and water problems as their main grievances.
Provincial medical director Dr Zizhou also expressed concern over the water crisis during the meeting. He urged residents to boil drinking water. Many areas have gone for four months without water, while residents of Rusike and Morningside have gone for years with dry taps. This is despite the fact that there are three full dams – Nyakambiri, Nyambuya and Rufaro – where supplies to the town are drawn from. On Tuesday, Comara asked town clerk Mr Josiah Musuwo to explain what was happening.
Mr Musuwo revealed that when council workers went on an indefinite strike last Tuesday, there were no attendants at the water works. In a quest to provide residents with water, the senior council officials sent some relief workers to operate the water pumps. However, the larger water pump’s motor blew up as it was started without being primed first.
Council now needs US$40 000 for repairs and replacements. This is unlikely to happen any time soon as council is failing to pay 300 striking workers. Unicef this week started sinking boreholes in Marondera to help residents access water.
Source: Wenceslaus Murape, The Herald /allAfrica.com, 1 October 2010