Gweru — Residents in the Midlands city are up in arms with government and city authorities who they accuse of being too preoccupied with trading blame for a devastating typhoid outbreak at the expense of combining forces with all stakeholders to arrest the multi-faceted health crisis.
Following the outbreak, at least 5 people have been confirmed dead while over 600 were affected by the waterborne disease.
However, there are claims by some residents the death toll could be close to 10 with some fatalities going unreported.
The areas affected are Mkoba 13, 15, 18, 19 and 20 high density suburbs.
The outbreak has been linked to council water contamination by raw sewerage in parts of the city’s high-density areas.
Health and Child Care Minister, David Parirenyatwa has warned authorities within the Gweru City Council against misleading residents that the city’s water was safe when there was enough evidence on the ground to suggest the city water was not safe to drink.
“… We do not want to hear people say that our water is safe. It is not safe,” said the Minister, adding, “The local authority should look into the water and sewer reticulation system.”
City fathers have linked some of the problems bedevilling the city to central government meddling in their affairs.
However, in a statement, the Gweru Residents Forum (GRF) attributed the failure by council to cope with the demand for public services to government failure to avail additional resources to the troubled local authority.
“There are high expectations that in the typhoid crisis that we are currently experiencing, there be a coordinated approach towards addressing the problem between Gweru City Council (GCC), Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC), technical partners, residents’ associations and the communities,” said the residents forum.
“The public service delivery infrastructure including water roads, sewerage and refuse collection that Gweru City council is using cannot cope with the urban housing expansion that has been witnessed over the last five years.”
The statement added, “Equally, state land that has been parcelled out by land hawks for expansion purposes without the involvement of Gweru City as land sale revenue has greatly contributed to the crisis.
“The GRF is of the conviction that there was need for central government to parcel out the land to Gweru City Council for proper planning and investment in public services infrastructure to avoid such challenges and to expand the public service infrastructure in line with the population and housing development within Gweru City.
“The GRF urges the central government through the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and Gweru City council and all stakeholders to find common ground and tackle the typhoid crisis head on and desists from accusations and counter accusations on the responsibility of the current situation that we find ourselves as residents.”