By Concerned Citizens
It is again that time of year that Zambia faces enormous waterborne diseases that include the lethal Cholera Outbreaks.
Cholera is endemic to Zambia and outbreaks occur almost every year in Lusaka, Southern, Northern and Luapula provinces. The 2017/2018 cholera outbreak was declared on 6th October 2017 after a laboratory confirmation of two initial cases reported by Chipata Level One Hospital on 4th October 2017. This year, the outbreak happened just before the rainy season which is unusual.
Schools, markets business houses were closed with enormous economic loss. To control the disease government had to seek the services of the military to flush out vendors and bring sanity in townships and street vending. These interventions are reactive and not proactive.
Cooperating partners, business houses provided assistance in various ways while relevant ministries that included, health and local government danced day and night to the endemic.
What lessons were learnt during the 2017/2018 outbreak?
It is clear that Cholera was caused by the Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera, is usually found in food or water contaminated by feces from a person with the infection. Common sources include:
• Municipal water supplies
• Ice made from municipal water
• Foods and drinks sold by street vendors
• Vegetables grown with water containing human wastes
• Raw or undercooked fish and seafood caught in waters polluted with sewage
What is pertaining now?
The relevant agencies like ZEMA, Local government have again gone to sleep as vendors have slowly started coming back littering waste all over while Malls like Cosmopolitan are recking profits and have on several occasions littered waste into streams and orchards etc. and yet ZEMA is aware of what is taking place and allowed business as usual exposing the public to waterborne diseases like Cholera. In the townships like Kanyama, Chibolya and the, nothing has changed in terms of sanitary situation and yet expect different results.
Compliance to Approved Environmental Rules by Trading places
Before a Mall or any public trading area is issued a license they are always required to either conduct an Environmental Project Brief or EIS. All those covered include, bars, markets, lodges, hotels, housing complexes and malls just to mention a few. A quick visit to most of these facilities will review that, either bad workmanship during implementation or total breakdown of approved sanitary systems and have resorted to littering of waste and increasing the dangers of the spread of waterborne diseases like Cholera.
Why are the public trading places not complying and what punitive measures have been taken?
The above question can only be adequately answered by agencies like the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) who we believe are aware of the trend. We are aware for example that ZEMA had charged Silverest Garden Housing in Chongwe and two of its employees, Hu Xinqiuo and Tan Futian for contravening the Environmental Management Act No. 12 of 2011 (EMA) and its subsidiary legislation. The Company and the two employees were charged for unlawful discharge of a pollutant into the environment and failure to comply with an environmental order issued by ZEMA relating to discharge of effluent. We are also aware that Cosmo Mall was charged using the same act for littering waste into orchards using their truck which was not part of the disposal methodology that was approved in the EIS approved by ZEMA at construction stage. We are also aware of the hazardous disposal methods at malls like Waterfall just to mention a few.Are they complying after these charges and what needs to be done beyond charging them?
It is clear that most of these trading and housing complexes that have mushroomed are not complying with the approvals that were made before construction partly because of lack of supervisory capacity and underhand corrupt tendencies. This practice has gotten out of hand and demand that noncompliance must be met with closure until they comply. An immediate compliance assessment of all the facilities should be instituted and culprits must be given immediate order to comply or be closed until they comply.
The Case of Cosmopolitan, Waterfall and many others Mushrooming Malls and hounding Complexes
It is disheartening to openly witness Cosmo Mall empty their septic tanks into trucks for disposal in the open with the odour of the feces smelling all around the un functioning on site sanitation system. The unsuspecting customers and neighbors are daily exposed to this hazard and quickly advise the relevant agency to compel management to address the non-functioning on site sanitation system while they await a long term solution or close them before the onset of rains to avoid a disaster in making.If no action is taken, then we will in detail expose the agencies and culprits who are currently exposing the public to serious health risks of waterborne diseases like Cholera. These malls house outlets like, hungry lion, restaurants, food chain stores – perfect places for transmission.