A closer look however, shows the site is actually a faulty manhole, continuously spewing raw sewage into a stream which flows through a nearby municipal farm, en-route to Lake Chivero, Harare’s main source of drinking water.
A few metres down the sewer line is yet another defective manhole, also incessantly discharging human waste into the same stream.
But despite the dangers of contracting communicable diseases, some residents have planted maize, tomatoes and vegetables in the area surrounding the manholes and along the stream.
The vegetables and green maize — grown and harvested under unhygienic conditions — are later sold to unsuspecting consumers exposing them to diseases.
Cattle at the council-owned farm drank the sewage water which is in abundance. Children who go to the nearby school said they were unhappy with the repugnant smell and the mud caused by the manholes.
“When I started school at (Budiriro) High 1 in 2009, one of my challenges was crossing this area because it is always smelly and muddy because of the sewage,” Nicola Chibanda said.
“It gets worse during the rainy season. We always see city council workers at the manholes, but the sewage continues flowing onto our path.”
A man, who said he was a caretaker at the school, said the situation was not improving.
“The children have been complaining about the mud and that is why I decided to work from here today, although all I can do is dig trenches for the water to flow to the opposite direction and also put grass and soil over the mud,” he said.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) recently fined the Harare City Council (HCC) US$15 000 for environmental mismanagement. Among other charges, the city was found guilty of water and effluent mismanagement and was fined US$15 000.
The Budiriro manholes were cited among other poorly managed sites. Acting town clerk Prosper Chonzi on Thursday said the city had plans to attend to the sewer bursts and all other environmental hot spots.
“We are just waiting for the money from the Afrexim (China’s African Export-Import) Bank which agreed to fund our projects. That our cattle drink the water is not a concern because that is part of the ecosystem, (the) reason why we use final effluent to irrigate pasture.”
He added: “But we may have to reprioritise and attend to the site much earlier than we had planned because of these complaints which are now coming through.” Chonzi on Thursday told a special council meeting that Dzivarasekwa, Kuwadzana, Warren Park and Kambuzuma suburbs have been hit by diarrhoea outbreaks in recent days.
Chonzi said that 450 people were attended with diarrhoea and other typhoid symptoms at Warren Park Clinic since the first week of January. He said more than 200 people who were “much sicker than those attended to in Dzivarasekwa”, arrived with diarrhoea, fever, headaches and other typhoid symptoms at Kuwadzana Clinic between Monday and Thursday last week alone.