People living in Mbare hostels are calling for Government intervention over their failure to practice social distancing due to over-crowding.
Most families who reside in the hostels live in excess of five individuals per room, which poses a risk of contracting the lethal coronavirus (COVID-19) as they are always close to each other in their single rooms.
COVID-19 has seen the death of thousands of people across the world and has resulted in President Mnangagwa calling for a 2.1-day lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.
“It is difficult to keep social distance when ten people live in the same room and if COVID-19 is to break out here, we will all die,” said a voluntary community worker who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The volunteer, who has been residing at the flats for most of her life, expressed disgruntlement over the inhumane living conditions she, together with thousands of others, are subjected to especially in the lock-down when all of them are forced to stay at home.
“The authorities have ordered us to stay indoors so at the moment no-one is going to work. The ten of us is in the room all the time.
There’s no way we can exercise social distancing because we are overcrowded. “We don’t know if any of us have contracted the virus, but in the instance that one of us gets it, all of us will perish.
Tikugara takangotarisana. Social distancing ha kuchisina. “On normal days, I sell my vegetables and the like during the day while the kids are at school.
My other children work at the commuter termini and at night, my husband and my other son go to work. They are security guards so the home is never really as crowded as it is now during the lockdown,” she said.
…residents cry foul over services
Mbare residents have cried foul over recent rent hikes by the City of Harare in comparison to the pathetic services they receive from the local authority. “The city authorities promised to ren-ovate these flats but nothing has materialized to date.
What’s mind-boggling is that recently our rents were hiked to $500 and failure to pay results in one being locked out of their rooms.
Some have been made to sleep outside with their kids after they delayed payment. “Toilet blockages and sewerages reign supreme in these flats, yet we are religious ratepayers,” said one of the residents.
City of Harare spokesperson Micheal Chideme said the council has left its clean-ers at the Mbare Hats to ensure that there is good sanitation.
The country is on lockdown and we have scaled down on our staff but we have maintained the cleaners at Mbare Flats and our water waste team to deal with burst pipes and the like.
They are on the ground as people are at home,” he said. When he was asked on Council’s plan to decongest the overpopulated Mbare Hats, Chideme said: “Plans are there to decongest the Matapi Flats but it cannot be in the next 21 days.
“We can’t make people homeless during the outbreak of a lethal virus. “We have long term plans for Matapi which is to build new ones and make those family units, but currently we are just going to disinfect the flats while fighting the COVID-19.
…poor sanitation poses a health risk
Poor sanitation is the order of the day at Mbare Flats and it poses a risk to residents who use community toilets and bathrooms.
The residents said they have no access to detergents to sanitize staircases and public toilets where raw sewer flows as some of the toilets are blocked and a chocking stench could be smelt from the entrance of one of the blocks.
Residents took the H-Metro crew on a tour of their first-floor bathrooms where the whole block fetches water from the male bath-room.
“We have these common bath-rooms and most times we are all crowded in here taking a bath because most of the time water stops flowing in the morning, so everyone bathes in the morning.
We are at risk of contracting the virus as we will all be close together. “We are grateful to the authorities, however.
Since the lockdown began, we have had running water since Monday which explains the clothes that you can see from outside the flats hanging because we are taking advantage of the water supply that we currently have.
“Raw sewerage and uncollected garbage is the order of the day here at Matapi. “There’s one tap which provides running water to all the four floors, which is a challenge to us considering the large numbers of people who live here;’ explained one of the residents.
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