By Nqobile Tshili
Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo was yesterday forced to temporarily shut down after the Agritex Department fumigated its offices without notice during working hours.
The complex houses various Government departments for Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South.
The fumigation chemicals are said to be dangerous and made it unsafe for civil servants and employees to remain in their work stations.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube was among the senior Government officials that had to abandon their duties due to the unplanned fumigation exercise.
Most civil servants were caught unaware of what was happening leading to some suspecting that someone had contracted Covid-19 and the building was being disinfected.
Chronicle established that no one had contracted the virus within the Government complex, but prevention measures were being implemented.
The building was closed down shortly after 11AM resulting in members of the public being turned away. Employees manning the entrance claimed that the offices will be reopened on Monday but officials said the offices will reopen today.
Acting Bulawayo provincial development co-ordinator Mrs Khonzani Ncube said while Agritex had fumigated its offices without notice, the process will be done every two weeks as part of Government’s Covid-19 prevention measures.
“This is something that we will be conducting every two weeks because our offices are being accessed by a lot of people. At the moment, at the gate we were just checking for temperature, sanitising and washing of hands and fumigation becomes an additional measure,” said Mrs Ncube.
“But the people who came to fumigate did so without notice. They did it when we were still putting measures in place such as the wheel bath and foot bath for pedestrians. So, they just started fumigating and due to the chemicals that are used we could not allow that the fumigation process be conducted with people in the building. That is why the building had to be closed.”
She said Government is putting in place measures to ensure that the fumigation process does not disrupt the running of business.
Mrs Ncube said they are considering that the process be conducted over the weekend.
“There is only one department which conducted the exercise and we have resolved that this cannot be done during the week. The chemical is very strong. Its odour is very strong, making it uncomfortable to work in those offices. Tomorrow (today) the offices should be reopened. So, it’s just one department which has completed the process, other departments will follow,” said Mrs Ncube.
Bulawayo City Council in April conducted a fumigation exercise in the city targeting areas highly frequented by residents.
The council used hydrogen peroxide in the fumigation programme and would conduct sensitisation campaigns educating residents to vacate from the targeted areas before it started the exercise. The Chronicle