SOUTHERN Water and Sewerage Company (SWASCO) has refuted claims that its sewer ponds are to blame for the increase in the number of mosquito population in various parts of Livingstone.
Several Livingstone residents have complained of swarms of mosquitoes in their homes, eating places, markets, churches, schools, lodges, work places and many other premises of habitation.
Last week, Southern Province Medical Officer Jelita Chinyonga said the sewer ponds as well as Livingstone streams namely Maramba and Dambwa alongside the broken sewer systems and broken water reticulated piping systems were potential mosquito breeding sites that contributed to the increased number of mosquitoes in Livingstone.
Dr Chinyonga said the Southern Province Medical Office and the Livingstone District Medical Office had started holding consultative meetings with stakeholders and the community to map up the way forward.
“We are also doing cascade training of sprayer operators in readiness for indoor residual spraying that will commence soon,” Dr Chinyonga said.
She also urged the public to use already existing interventions such as personal protection through the use of insecticides treated nets and mosquito repellants.
But SWASCO Corporate Affairs Manager Liversage Mulinda said the claims linking his organisation, which managed the sewer ponds as well as the water reticulation systems in Livingstone, were unfounded.
Mr Mulinda said the water utility company had no plans of introducing foreign elements in their sewer ponds.
“As you may already know, the ponds are primarily meant to treat sewage to acceptable environmental standards before it is discharged into the environment. This process largely depend on the presence of bacteria in the ponds to help in digesting organic waste.
“We, therefore, do not need to introduce anything in these sewage ponds that will kill the bacteria or indeed make them ineffective as doing so would make the efficiency of the whole sewage treatment process compromised and we also know as a fact that, spraying the sewage ponds is not the only mechanism of mosquito control available, “Mr Mulinda said.
He claimed that the people accusing the water utility company of being behind the spread of mosquitoes in the city were those who had encroached on the embankments of the ponds.
“You may also wish to know that this complaint mainly comes from people that have been allocated plots and built houses closer to the sewage ponds and SWASCO warned of such consequences at the time plots were being allocated to these people. In order to protect the integrity of the embankment walls and prevent seepage into the nearby environment, we raised concerns over the allocation of plots near and in some instances on the embankments of the ponds as the case is at the Main ponds near the Zambezi River and Airport ponds and nothing was done about it.
“True to our fears then, people are now complaining of mosquitoes after building next to our sewage ponds at the same time posing a serious threat of weakening the embankments of the ponds. That said, we are not to blame as SWASCO because there is nothing outside our normal operations that we have done or not done to cause the problem being complained of,” he said.