Gweru dumpsite a health time bomb

By Tafara Chikumira

GWERU residents have called for the immediate decommissioning of the McFaden landfill popularly known as the Gweru Dumpsite, which has become a serious health threat to Woodlands and Mkoba residents.

Situated in the south-west of Gweru’s Central Business District (CBD) is a dumpsite, which is a stone’s throw from Woodlands phase two suburb home to over 15 thousand people.

“The stench that comes from that dumpsite is something else. Am already sick because of the smoke that comes out of the dumpsite when people burn the trash. It’s really stressing and we are in big trouble. We just appeal to the authorities to act,” said a resident.

Another resident complained, “The flies that come out of the dumpsite is something else. We are exposed to diseases like cholera and typhoid because of where we are staying. Sometimes when they burn the trash we look for alternative places to stay as the situation is really bad.”

It has, however, taken more than two decades for the local authority to act despite a government land offer for an alternative dumpsite.

“We use the road past the dumpsite to go to school. The dumps have since closed our roads and we are exposed to all sorts of dangers as a result of the location of this dumpsite. When it rains, the trash is washed away right to our doorsteps as there is no proper drainage system around this place,” a student said.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has since given the local authority an ultimatum to relocate the landfill.

“We have given them up to next month to come up with a plan on how they are going to move the dumpsite. They seem to be cooperating and as such we are employing the wait and see approach. We have not given them the Environmental Impact Assessment certificate for Mkoba 21 suburb as a result of the dumpsite and this can only be issued once they deal with the problem,” said Midlands Acting Provincial Manager – Environmental Management Agency Mr Timothy Nyoka.

While acknowledging the dire situation, the Gweru city council says it is handicapped by lack of funds.

“The Vungu Rural District Council and City of Gweru finally signed a Memorandum of Agreement in February 2021 to solve problems faced by Woodlands residents, one of which was the removal of the landfill,” said Ms Vimbai Chingwaramusee, Gweru City Council Spokesperson.

Issues of effluent and improper disposal of solid waste are affecting most local authorities with residents at the receiving end of environmental health risks.