By Pamela Shumba
The Bulawayo City Council yesterday averted a “faeces protest” by angry residents in Entumbane suburb who say they have been living with raw sewage flowing through their homes for almost two weeks.
The residents resolved to scoop the human waste in buckets and splash it at the council offices in Mabutweni in protest over burst sewer pipes that have become a nightmare in the area. A sewer specialist company, MAC, which was contracted by council to attend to sewer bursts in the city, arrived in the nick of time as residents had mobilised to carry out their unusual protest.
When The Chronicle arrived in Entumbane yesterday, MAC technicians had just arrived to ease the pressure in the sewer pipes using the jetting system.
Scores of affected residents were anxiously waiting outside their houses for MAC to relieve them from the undesirable stench, which they said had made life unbearable in the suburb.
The angry residents condemned the city council for failing to attend to the situation on time and exposing them to disease outbreaks.
Residents from a section of the suburb had resorted to using toilets and bathrooms at houses in other parts of Entumbane.
“We have sealed chambers in our toilets because raw sewage is spewing from them, spilling into our houses and the streets,” said a fuming resident.
Ms Nomsa Ndlela, whose house was the most affected, said they were miserable as the situation was making it difficult for them to live normal lives. “It’s been 12 days since we reported these sewer bursts to the city council and we had not received feedback. We then threatened to scoop the raw sewage into buckets and take it to the offices in Mabutweni so that they understand what we’re going through.
“They have been telling us that MAC will come and sort out the problem but they only came today after we made threats. This is unfair because such a situation is a threat to our health,” said Ms Ndlela.
She added that sewage will eventually lead to an outbreak of diseases since flies feed on the waste and sit on their food.
“We can’t allow our children to play outside because of sewage that is all over the place. We have to lock them in the houses but the smell is also unbearable.
“The city council should respond to such cases on time to protect the health of residents. I’m a nurse and I teach people about hygiene, but just look at what is happening where I stay,” said Ms Ndlela.
Mr Cleopas Ngano said the city council had failed to permanently solve the problem of sewer bursts as the pipes become blocked soon after they have been attended to.
“They have come in the past to fix the problem but the pipes burst a few days after they have left. We’re praying that MAC will bring this problem to an end.
“They said they use a different system from council, which is permanent. We’re appealing to the BCC to respond on time when we make such reports.
We’re paying rates to the council, we therefore expect the local authority to respond on time,” said Mr Ngano.
Bulawayo City Council public relations officer, Ms Bongiwe Ngwenya, yesterday said she would find out why it took long for the sewer bursts to be attended to.
She said MAC was in September last year awarded the tender to clear sewer blockages from identified and prioritised sewer lines in the city on an “as and when required” basis.
“This is a one year contract valued at $500 000. MAC has so far cleared stubborn blockages in Luveve catchment which includes Gwabalanda, Luveve, Magwegwe and Emakhandeni.
“We’ll make a follow up and find out why the sewer blockage in Entumbane was not attended to on time,” said Ms Ngwenya. The Chronicle