GWERU – It looks like fog but it is not; it is the billows of smoke, they look like birds but it’s just fragments of burnt filth flying in the air. Getting closer an unpleasant odor, foreign indeed to the nose, a very pungent smell stronger than that of a dead rat or the smell of faeces welcomes you.
Immediately pierces into the body, transmitting shock waves that make one forcibly quiver as it punches north-south down into the deep pits of the stomach, aggressively pushing one to want to hurl and vomit.
Eyes are hailed by a feast of protruding grease socked diapers, the dried bloody blackened torn used sanitary pads, broken syringes and the little strings of masks that stick out under the buried rotting garbage pile, displayed are decayed banana peels amongst it, shattered glasses, the colorful old rusted metals and the scrap tires that are enticingly ready to serve the rats and mosquitoes.
Skinny stray dogs with their tongues hanging out, dripping saliva wander and scavenge over the massive heap of waste whilst the birds circle overhead to also scuffle the strewn waste.
Nearby is a funeral as a dead cat is laid to rest by the green bomber horde of flies and a few meters away is a pond of thick slimy dark colored unidentified toxic liquid.
The towering mountain of waste seems to have replaced the so called ‘garbage monster’ as this ‘monster’ is twice as much bigger and grimmer, a horrendous demon with no horns but filled with the various lethal weapons of waste that could end human life.
The monster is not situated deep in the woods as might be supposed, but a stone throw away from Gweru’s Woodlands high density suburb.
“Our situation is sad. We have for long been fighting with authorities to move the dumpsite to no avail. We fear for our lives, the lives of the ones we love, lives of our children and those of those that will follow after us.
“I have expressed the fear as generational since many have since departed this earth singing the same song; that the dumpsite be moved but today it’s like we have never spoken,” said a Gweru resident residing in Woodlands area; Obert Rupanga.
The complaints by Gweru’s Woodlands residents come following Councils’ ‘negligence’ to move the dumpsite from nearby resident’s homes. It is now more than a decade since residents complained on the need to have the dumpsite moved to no avail.
“The major challenge we face now is as time moves, the garbage hip is continuously growing and drawing more close to our homes. The health scare is just too traumatising,” Rupanga added.
Several exchange of words have been the order of the day between the two responsible local authorities, Vungu Rural District Council and City of Gweru, over responsibility to moving the health time bomb.
Back ground checks show that the City of Gweru blames Vungu RDC for entering an agreement with a local land developer to pitch a housing project in land that has been identified for a dumpsite.
On the other hand, upon development of the housing project, Vungu RDC had surrendered collection of service fees to the City of Gweru citing incapacitation to handle the project.
To date, it is the City of Gweru that has been collecting money for service provision from Woodlands residents.
City of Gweru recently said they have taken it upon themselves to move the dumpsite though they have continuously said their coffers are currently dry and cannot afford moving the dumpsite.
“We need at least ZWD2 million to move the dumpsite. At the moment we are focusing on COVID-19 through the provision of protective clothing to front line workers. We have however already identified the place where the dumpsite would be relocated and work is expected to start soon,” said City of Gweru public relation officer Vimbai Chingwaramusee.
Having pressured council publicly; Residents Associations have also sympathised with council by reiterating the view that the local authority is out of funds to immediately move the dumpsite.
“We have petitioned the Ministry of Local Governance and we are waiting patiently for a response. Vungu RDC and the City of Gweru have told us in engagement meetings that they are working on a way forward and we are awaiting action.
“However council is out of funds to be effecting such developments and as residents we should to some extent accept that,” said Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) Coordinator Cornelia Selipiwe.
“A holistic approach is needed if the dumpsite issue is to be dealt with immediately. This is whereby the responsible authorities, land developer and Ministry partner for a solution. As of now, no considerable action has been seen towards having the dumpsite moved since councils’ coffers are dry and it’s something we can’t run away from,” added Gweru residents Forum director; Charles Mazorodze.
The forensic land audit report conducted by the Ministry of Local Governance however recommended that Gweru City Council and Vungu Rural Council should speed up the conclusion of a joint committee agreement in order to mutually benefit the residents of the two local authorities.
Some diseases associated with living close to date include cholera, typhoid, tetanus, dengue fever and hepatitis A. Gweru has already been victim to typhoid as it claimed five people while more than 300 residents were treated for the disease.