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Gwanda dumpsite a health time bomb

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Story by Providence Maraneli

RESIDENTS of Gwanda have sent a distress call amid revelations that the local authority is dumping waste at a decommissioned site.

As one approaches the town of Gwanda along the Bulawayo – Beitbridge highway, they are forgiven to think that its a town that is burning because of a cloud of smoke and sticking smell from a dumpsite which is a few metres away from the CBD.

What you expect to see in the picture are two of the iconic features of the town, the NSSA complex and the Joshua Nkomo Polytechnic College, but they are all covered in smoke.

To the residents and grocery shops barely 30 metres from the dumpsite, flies and marauding baboons have become a normal sight albeit in a town that is seeking city status.

And with few reported cases of cholera across the province in Beitbridge, residents of Gwanda are now living in fear.

A resident said, ‘‘We are tired of this council, we are worried the flies will give us cholera. You can’t cook anything and leave it because the next thing flies will be all over.’’

Another resident noted, ‘‘The worst part is the dumpsite is not even fenced, sometimes you find your children playing with diapers that they would have picked from the dumpsite.’’

Yet another resident said, ‘‘The smell from the site is hazardous, the council told us that they burn the waste so that there won’t be flies but the smell I think is hazardous to our health.’’

The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) is equally worried over the laxity by the local authority to move away from the condemned dumpsite that has turned the urban area into

Environmental Management Agency Matabeleland South Provincial Manager Mr Decent Ndlovu said, ‘‘We as the environmental management, we are equally worried we have issued orders for the municipality to stop dumping their waste there a long time ago. We are in the process of taking the legal route because it continuously poses a health hazard to the people in the town and with cases of cholera being reported it is sad that they continue to dump there.’’

About 7 km from the town, along the Gwanda-Maphisa Road, falling billboards and tall grass are a common sight at what was supposed to be a world class landfill, constructed by a local non-governmental organisation and handed over to the municipality some years ago.

The site which gobbled nearly US$500 000 was expected to be the answer to the waste management problems bedevilling the opposition run council as it was to also produce biogas for home use.

Gwanda Mayor Mr Njabulo Siziba noted, ‘‘May be its an issue of priority on the side of management because we as policy makers we gave them an ultimatum last year to move to the new landfill,but they told us that there are no funds to buy a roller and a compactor that is needed to have the landfill functional.’’

While the residents are living in fear of diseases associated with improper waste management, the municipality recently purchased a new fleet of vehicles for management, so maybe it is a matter of priority in the opposition run urban local authority as is the case in other areas like Harare and Bulawayo.