Thursday, December 2, 2021
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‘Outcast suburb’ of 16 years: The story of Masvingo’s Garikai residential area

Courage Dutiro

Residents of Garikai residential area in Masvingo urban have lived as ‘outcasts’ for 16 years after commissioning of the area and they feel city fathers are neglecting them by failing to offer social services other suburbs are enjoying.

Garikai housing scheme commissioned in 2005 after government launched the widely condemned operation Murambatsvina, a forced eviction programme which saw the demolitions of homes and informal businesses around the country’s major cities and towns.

In 2013, Masvingo City reportedly secured a US$2, 1 million loan from National Social Security Authority (NSSA) that it promised to use to connect Garikai housing project into the main city’s sewerage system. However, to date nothing has yet materialised and the whereabouts of that funding is shrouded in mystery.

The area is located a few meters from Masvingo city council’s dumping area that the local authorities are taking too long to decommission and residents said the site cast an unpleasant odour into the houses.

A visit to Garikai residential area by TellZim News revealed that people have resorted to the use of surrounding bushes and open spaces as toilets.

Residents are still using bush toilets and sharing fewer water sources installed during the construction of the houses in 2005.

Area committee chairperson Gertrude Mukokovondo said the unavailability of sanitation facilities in the area is a huge blow to local women who oversee family welfare especially during this era of Covid-19 and is posing a health hazard to the local people.

“Women are mostly affected by the poor situation here; they are the ones who stay at home most of the time. We have a serious challenge when it comes to hygiene. The few blair toilets that people used to relieve themselves are full forcing people to use bush toilets which has created a potential health hazard causing air pollution in the fly-infested area.

“The problem is doubled by shortage of water. Before the coming in of Covid-19 , Minister of state for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Masvingo visited us, saw our situation and we are still waiting for their action,” said Mukokovondo.

A local woman who identified herself as Svunurai Mugiyani said she is among hundreds of women who are living without a toilet in Garikai area.

“As women and mothers, we find it hard to live without toilets. We need toilets and access to clean water. Even though Covid-19 is not caused by open defecation, we are now fearing for other disease outbreaks like cholera,” said Mugiyani.

Ndaizivei Mutero, another woman who resides in Garikai said the responsible authorities seem to be neglecting and discriminating women.

“We wish to be like any other locations; we do not know the plans council have for us concerning the issue of water. We wish council could treat us like other residents in Masvingo urban.

We are being told to wash hands regularly but we cannot follow such regulations here. The community has 100 houses and we wake up at 3 am to fetch water at a single water point. Each family is allowed to fetch only two buckets,” Mutero said.

A male resident who requested to speak on condition of anonymity said the area seems to be unworthy in the eyes of those in power.

“The area is despised by many. No one wants to associate with this place maybe because it is a ZANU PF old dispensation project,” he said.

A senior male citizen in Garikai area said they are finding it difficult to live with the bad odour that come from the dumping site.

“Toilets here are a challenge; we have been talking about the issue since long ago. Even during the days of cholera, we have been living in fear. Council should provide us with a sewerage system. We are also appealing to local authority to deal with the issue of this nearby dumping site quickly. It is hard for a human being to live while breathing bad odour,” he said.

In English the word Garikai can be translated to mean ‘live well’ however Garikai residents seem not to be living well without water, toilets and with unpleasant odour from the dumping site

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