By Clive Makumbe
GWERU residents have urged the city council to this year prioritise the provision of sufficient clean water and the relocation of the dumpsite from Woodlands.
Residents at a meeting held at YWCA in Mkoba, end of last year, organised by the Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA), said the Woodlands dumpsite posed a risk to public health, more so now in the face of rising COVID-19 infections and deaths.
The residents said the used face masks being dumped on the site were being recycled and in some instances children pick them up, putting at risk the lives of many people in the area.
Chairperson for Ward 16 development committee under Woodlands, Obert Rupanga, said the masks being taken from the dumpsite could contribute to the increase in COVID-19 infections in Gweru.
“Children from Woodlands are reportedly picking up the masks from the nearby dumpsite and then reusing them, exposing themselves to COVID-19,” he said.
A concerned resident, Andrew Zihapa said the Woodlands dumpsite should be relocated because it posed health and environmental risks.
“People are at risk of diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and cancer. We are seriously in trouble. What is council planning to do regarding the situation since most of our houses are just a few metres from the dumpsite?
“There are thousands of residents living in the area including innocent souls that include women and children. We understand that the Woodlands issue is a high capital project and it needs more funds but it is not on the proposed budget you have given us,” he said.
However, Ward 9 resident Laizah Phiri, said the local authority should in its 2021 budget commit to restoring basic water supply and sanitation services. This she said should be done through maintenance, rehabilitation and upgrading of infrastructure.
“Water supply should be the main priority in this city since most wards have no water. It is a blessing if water comes out. They should invest our money towards our health since we are at danger of another cholera and typhoid outbreak in the city.
“We are grandmothers and we do all the household chores and without water, one cannot wash clothes, cook, water our gardens and even bath.
“Our water infrastructure is dilapidated and water bursts are now frequent. Urgent attention is critical to improve our water and sanitation services,” Phiri said.
Responding to the issues raised by the residents, Gweru mayor, Josiah Makombe, said they needed US$1 million to clear the Woodlands dumpsite.
“An Environmental Impact Assessment was done and all the necessary paperwork was processed to place the dumpsite at Woodlands. The place was regarded as a non-human settlement. Poor planning was done by the government and we have approached the relevant ministries to come up with the solution.
“We need over US$1 million to remove the dumpsite to another site away from the people. Engineers are in the process of surveying a suitable site for dumpsite,” he said.
Makombe said they were looking for developmental partners to assist in clearing the dumpsite.