Africa Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Africa Water, Sanitation Jan -Feb 2014 Vol.10 No1 - Page 9

NEWS in brief According to Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for MEC for Education Debbie Schafer, the education d e p a r t m e n t ’s Hanging around, waiting for some toilets in Tembisa district director gave permission for the school to close earlier while the problems are fixed. The past two days classes started at 8am, but an hour or two later the children were sent home. Yesterday they were told not to come to school until Friday. Around Africa construction at the school is scheduled to be completed by May 2015. “We we are trying to build a state of the art school on the premises,” she said. A parent who identified herself as “Mrs Gaba” lives in the same street as the school and has two children attending it. She said she was not pleased by the strike but she understands because of the bad situation at the school. “My children complain all the time about toilets that they don’t have at school and the younger one once came back from school with a wet school bag that he dropped in the sewage water,” she said. Zimbabwe School teacher and coordinator for safety, Xolile Platjies, says the sewage water has been there since last year. Mutare Loses Half Its Treated Water through Leakages “The kids cannot play in the yard anymore because they always fall on that water. You can smell the unpleasant scent even when you are in the classroom. The health of these kids is at risk,” said Platjies. The city of Mutare is processing enough water for its residents but about half of it is lost through burst pipes and leakages, a council official Water leakages in Mutare has said. The current classrooms are prefabricated and when they were provided the plan was that concrete classrooms would be built at a later stage. The construction began in 2011 and stopped last year. The school principal, Thobile Majingo, said he was not informed that the construction would be stopped or the reason for it. “I have never witnessed a construction that takes four years to build a primary school, and the worst part is that the construction just stopped without informing any of the staff.” Majingo, who took over as head of school in April 2014, said there are not enough toilets for the number of kids that are registered in the school. There are 1,220 students using nine toilets. The current toilets are damaged and currently not working. “Teachers do not have toilets in the premises at all and if they need to use a bathroom they have to leave classrooms and drive to the nearest petrol station which in unacceptable,” he said. Shelver told GroundUp that a contractor visited the school on Friday “to investigate the scope of work”. She said he returned on Saturday to repair the ablutions, however the septic tank was overflowing, and “he could not mitigate the situation.” Shelver said that the blockage has been cleared and there has been no spillage since yesterday. She said that the Department of Public Works would be cleaning up the existing spillage. Shelver said that the teachers have had no toilet facilities because of vandalism during the school holidays. The education department has arranged for 23 chemical toilets to be delivered to the school today. She said that Town Clerk Obert Muzawazi said the council was failing to replace obsolete pipes to minimize the losses due to financial constraints. “We are losing 52 percent of our purified water due to leakages and pipe bursts,” said Muzawazi, adding that the council was working round the clock to ensure that the problem was minimized. Mutare has a population of close to 400,000 and the city is grappling with acute water shortages with areas such as Dangamvura and Hobhouse having gone for years without access to tap water. According to the council’s finance department, close to $13 million is needed for a complete overhaul of the city’s water and sewer reticulation system which is now overstretched by demand. The council blames the collapse of a once vibrant industry as a major cause of its financial challenges. Mayor, Tawanda Nhamarare said the financial problems had been worsened by the closure of companies such as Mutare Board and Paper Mills, Cairns Foods, Quest and PG Glass which were cash cows to the local authority. He said most residents were unemployed and could not pay their rates. Africa Water, Sanitation & Hygiene • January - February 2015 9