George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
Chiefs in Masvingo have made an urgent appeal to Government and donor organisations to mobilise material and financial resources to rebuild major access roads and bridges destroyed by floods, amid fears of a widespread malaria outbreak in Sengwe communal lands in southern Chiredzi.
The large-scale damage on infrastructure caused by floods that have been sweeping across Masvingo has virtually cut off the southern parts of Chikombedzi from the rest of the country, making it hard to battle the malaria outbreak in the area.
Movement of food aid and medicines by Government and non-governmental organisations to Chikombedzi has been made impossible after Runde River flooded, totally enveloping bridges at Chilonga and Mupapa.
The heavy rains also damaged a major bridge along Mwenezi River, cutting off the border areas like Malipati and Dhavata from the district commercial capital of Chiredzi.
Movement of drugs and other interventions to malaria-stricken areas where over 20 people have already died because of the disease is being hamstrung by inaccessibility because of the flooded Runde and Mwenezi rivers.
Chiefs in the province have since made an appeal to Government to help communities affected by the flooding.
Chief Tshovani Mr Hlaisi Mundau said the flooded Runde River had cut off his area from Sengwe communal lands which borders South Africa.
‘’We have been virtually cut off from areas like Sengwe because Runde River is flooded and people cannot cross because access bridges are covered in water. People are using home-made canoes to cross these rivers, which is dangerous,’’ he said.
Masvingo provincial assembly of chiefs vice chairman Chief Marozva Mr Philip Mudhe called on private companies to assist Government and rural councils to repair the damage caused by floods.
He said major companies in the province such as Tongaat Hulett and Bikita Minerals were expected to chip in to avert disaster.
‘’We have many people who lost homes across the province because of floods, while in some areas, bridges were washed away and in extreme cases, human life was lost. This disaster requires collective intervention with private companies, NGOs and local authorities partnering Government to rebuild infrastructure damaged by floods,’’ he said.
Zimbabwe Chiefs’ Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira said the floods were a blessing in disguise as they will spawn food self-sufficiency.
‘’I think on the flip side of the floods, our country will get a bumper harvest. It’s sweetness that will come from pain, and Government should take advantage of the looming bumper harvest to make major re-investment in infrastructural development,’’ said Chief Charumbira.
Acting Chiredzi district administrator who is also chair of the Civil Protection Unit, Mr Ndeya Nyede said disaster was looming in southern Chikombedzi because of flooded rivers.
‘’Areas like Malipati, Dhavata, Matibi 2 and Makanani in southern Chikombedzi are inaccessible at the moment because the Mwenezi River bridge was damaged, while Runde is also flooded. The only way to access these areas is to go via the Gonarezhou National Park, which is long and risky,’’ he said.
‘’As I speak right now, even food aid cannot be moved to southern Chikombedzi because of these floods and fighting malaria outbreak that has so claimed over 20 people. Movement in these areas is difficult,’’ said Mr Nyede.
He said the national Civil Protection directorate was supposed to be on high alert to airlift flood victims in southern Chikombedzi, if the rains persist as levels in major rivers in the area will continue to rise.
In Mwenezi, floods left a trail of destruction in areas such as Maranda, Sarahuru and Neshuro where most roads were washed away making it difficult for people to access places like Neshuro District Hospital.
At Lundi High School, the headmaster Mr Hasani Dumela said there was need for regular weather updates to make sure students at the schools were not imperiled by the nearby Runde River if it floods.
Nearly 300 female students at the boarding school had to be evacuated from their hostels and stayed in a crammed church after floods swept into hostels at the institution.
Mr Dumela appealed to well-wishers to help erect a bridge over a depression that floods everytime Runde bursts its banks, cutting off the female hostels from the rest of the school.
At least 20 people have died after 450 malaria cases were reported in Bikita.