Covid-19 cripples council

By Brenna Matendere

The lockdown imposed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus has reduced Gweru City Council’s capacity to offer smooth service delivery due to constrained revenue inflow.

Trust Chineni, the councillor for ward 15, said the local authority’s fleet of vehicles for refuse collection, sewer system blockage reaction team and that of water services had been grounded as council was failing to buy spare parts as well as meet expenses for maintenance.

The council blamed some of the challenges on the lockdown that began in March when Zimbabwe recorded its first Covid-19 cases.

“As I speak right now, there is only one car for the sewer blockages reaction team to service the city centre and all the suburbs in the city,” Chineni said.
“The majority of workers from that department are actually spending the whole day seated at their work-stations because there are no cars to ferry them to scenes of sewer system blockages.

“At one time there were 320 cases of sewer blockage that needed to be attended to. but our teams just could not cope.

“Even the single car that is available at most of the times will be without fuel.

“It is a big challenge because since the lockdown started, residents have not been paying much in terms of their bills.”

The councillor said the government’s interference in council’s operations was another big handicap for the local authority.

“In the recent past we have had so many circulars and directives coming from central government,” Chineni said.

“We are being directed on almost everything leaving us as policymakers with little space to use our home decisions on critical matters.

Meanwhile, Gweru Residents and Rate Payers Association director Cornelia Selipiwe bemoaned continued presence of the council’s dumpsite a few metres away from a residential area.

“The dumpsite is spreading heavy pollution into houses of residents in Woodlands. We have repeatedly called upon authorities to relocate it, but it’s taking long,” Selipiwe said.

“Lives are at risk because of pollution happening there as well as the danger of an outbreak of diseases as children are picking up used face masks from hospitals and wearing them in these days of Covid-19.”

Woodlands councillor Parirenyatwa Nyika pledged to push the grievances onto the tables of authorities for a lasting solution to be found.

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