Blessings Chidakwa-Herald Reporter
The emergency major clean-up programme, Operation Chenesa Harare, rolled out by the Government at the end of last week to clean out heaps of garbage in Harare and increase water supplies by a third, has been extended for a week in Harare and rolled out countrywide.
The operation was in response to the rising number of cholera cases, with Harare now the national epicentre, with trucks and earthmoving equipment moved into Harare to clear the huge heaps of uncollected garbage and emergency financing arranged to buy chemicals for the still inadequate water treatment plants in the city so there was at least the basic water supply needed for health.
But as the fleet moves around the city, a lot more garbage than originally expected has been found dumped on open spaces and roadsides, especially in southern Harare and most particularly in and around Mbare, so the operation has been extended for another week.
Incompetence of some local authorities, mostly urban ones in refuse collection has led to illegal dumpsites mushrooming exposing citizens to health hazards forcing the Government to chip in.
Department of Civil Protection chief director Mr Nathan Nkomo yesterday also said Operation Chenesa Harare is continuing smoothly and is in region 3 which covers the Harare southern suburbs being the largest region.
“We are prioritising region 1 and region 3, but for Mbare we had underestimated the volumes and we are extending the blitz by another one week to carry out the operation effectively. We will be having a meeting tomorrow (today) to chat about the way forward. So far so good, we are so happy, but we are trying our best given the constraint which has been on the ground,” he said.
While municipalities have the clear responsibility to clear garbage, and while they have the legal independence to do so, Mr Nkomo noted recently that central Government could move in during an emergency.
According to the Civil Protection Act it mandates the DCP to carry out such operations focusing on the environment, especially on section 2 of the environmental pollution and disruption of essential services.
Mr Nkomo said what has led to the Government to swiftly intervene is the cholera outbreak and after the exercise they will let councils carry over with their duties of refuse collection.
Local Government and Public Works Minister Winston Chitando said the Operation Chenesa Harare will be replicated countrywide.
“The programme which we now have to come up with in the short and medium term is to ensure that we do not go back.
“Work is still there, but the Government is determined to ensure that Chenesai Harare works, Chenesai every local authority works. We want all local authorities to have good order and for the residents to have good services,” he said.
A Mbare resident Mrs Precious Chibhero hailed the Government for the exercise although challenging councils to collect refuse regularly to avoid a similar situation.
“We were living between a rock and a hard surface due to dumpsites all over the place. To us flies, maggots and the stench was the norm. Being spared from contaminating cholera was only by the grace of God,” she said.
Another resident, Mr Tinarwo said their plea is for the local authority to send in its refuse trucks to collect waste at least once a week so as to avoid a repeat of the same disaster.
“It is a good move that the Government has chipped in, but the council should also take advantage of the blitz to beef up its trucks and start collecting refuse,” he said.
Mrs Annastancia Mlambo said they are grateful to the Government for the removal of dumps.
“Words are not enough to say thank you especially during the cholera crisis. We were fearing for our lives.”
Another resident Victoria Gwebi, however urged residents to play their part by also being responsible.
“At household level we can do waste separation, especially that which is degradable.
“We can just dig a small pit and avoid throwing it at the mushrooming dumpsites,” she said.