GWERU: The City of Gweru has positively responded to a Ministerial call instructing them to swiftly construct toilets at the new Mtapa market stalls as structures are now visibly under construction.
The ultimatum by Minister of Housing and Social Amenities, Daniel Garwe instructed council to complete the project within two weeks but might however take longer to complete according to council.
“When the ultimatum was made there was miscommunication on how the project was being managed. According to our projections that include putting up shops for small to medium scale traders, besides the toilets in question, are be proof that two weeks is too small a time to complete all that.
“As council, we had to do things by the book and such included employing manpower for the projects above all. The good news to date however is that the projects have already commenced and we expect to be completing the ablution facilities first so as to cater for people already operating from the market now. This should be completed by August,” said City of Gweru Mayor, Josiah Makombe.
Affected vendors have been crying victim as they have never known peace after their stalls were demolished by council during the peak of the first lockdown in 2020. Upon demolishing stalls, council said it was acting upon government directive which advised them to take advantage of the lockdown to bring sanity in market places.
The reconstruction of stalls was initially supposed to take four months but was jeopardized by continued subsequent lockdowns according to council.
Following the demolitions, vendors initially took refuge at the old Mtapa market where they were displaced over lack of hygiene and ablution facilities, a scenario which is re-emerging at the new Mtapa market.
Zimbabwe’s constitution states under Section 71 that every citizen has a right to a healthy and clean environment.
Vendors are currently lamenting council’s snail pace towards provision of ablution facilities at the market saying the underdevelopment is now a health time bomb for more than 1000 vendors operating in the area.
Desperate vendors also say they have since resorted to pay toilets so as to get rid of open defecation that is rife at the market.
“The situation here is terrible and as vendors we want council to be swift with this issue. We hire mobile toilets to bring a little sanity to the market but it is quite a burden for us to be coordinating such while we have city fathers who should be lessening such burdens,” said Gweru Vendors Association Chairperson, Angeline Zivanai.
Mayor Makombe is however on record saying council had taken long to pitch ablution facilities because vendors were not forthcoming in paying for services to council pointing out that they opted paying conmen who gave them non-permanent solutions to their challenges.
Council has however to date successfully completed Kudzanayi Terminus and market though the number of stalls are far much less than the number of vendors in need of vending stalls.