Mosquitoes add to Vosho residents problems

Sewage spills in Vosho informal settlement in Harare.

Vosho informal settlement residents who are struggling with recurring raw sewage spills have had their distress compounded by the infestation of mosquitoes attracted to the putrid pools of water.

When Vukani visited the area on Tuesday, January 23, the pungent smell of raw sewage was hard to miss as we walked in between the shacks.

The residents showed Vukani where the sewage emanates from and where it ends in their area.

The residents state that when one sewerage problem is fixed, another arises, compromising their health and making their lives extremely difficult.

Community leader Ayanda Msutu said the problem started around October when one of the drains from the 35 Section formal area spilled sewage into their community.

He said they struggled for almost three months as ward councillor Anele Gabuza would get the City’s trucks to mop up the sewage but after a couple of days the sewage would overflow again.

For some time that drain stopped being a problem but then another drain from a different part of 35 Section started spilling sewage in their community.

“Almost the entire area as you can see is covered by dirty water and sewage which has human faeces.

“Another huge problem that we have now is mosquitoes. As I speak to you, many people have their skin covered in calamine (lotion, to relieve itching) as they have been badly bitten.

“I fear for children and old people. People here in the area have left their shacks because sewage has surrounded their homes. We are pleading to the City to please intervene.

“We are in trouble my brother. Our health is heavily compromised,” he said.

Mr Msutu said they had been living like this since December and feared that things would become worse if nothing is done to fix this urgently.

Mayoral committee member for water and sanitation, Zahid Badroodien, said there is a recurring and stubborn blockage on the 600mm sewer main in Welcome Zenzile in Kuyasa.

“This is due to a manhole upstream which was vandalised intentionally to create illegal connections, and that contributes to the severity of the blockage.

“Additionally, structures have been built on top of the sewer line and other manholes covered which makes the unblocking operation even more difficult.”

He said, they are seeing building rubble and other foreign objects dumped in the sewer network, which causes overflows. This is affecting Khayelitsha as a whole.

He said water and sanitation’s operational teams have been working consistently since last year, using specialised vehicles in addition to over-pumping (using pumps to bypass the blockage) to provide relief to residents.

But he said there are also ongoing safety concerns when the teams work in the community, which causes additional delays as law enforcement needs to be secured to safeguard the teams.

“We understand the urgency of this matter and its impact on the community. Our teams are committed to resolving the issue as swiftly as possible.

“We appeal to the community to work with us to safeguard the sewer and water infrastructure in order to prevent these overflows from taking place,”he said.

Resident Sifiso Ntsoyi said he had to send his children away because they had been badly bitten by mosquitoes.

He said they have to close all windows before 3pm to prevent mosquitoes from coming inside or else it is impossible to sleep.

He said no one deserves to live like this and it is summer time and their lives have just become miserable.

The parent of this child told Vukani that she had just taken the boy to the clinic and was given calamine lotion to treat the mosquito bites.
One resident, who did not want to be named, said she had also been bitten by mosquitoes.