Chitungwiza residents have resorted to taking matters into their own hands by building illegal septic tanks as the town continues facing challenges with its aged sewer system.
The town fathers are failing to replace old and dilapidated sewer pipes leading to constant sewer bursts and a non-working sewer system.
Now residents are living with their ‘poo’ by constructing their own septic tanks – known in this area as ‘backyard sceptics as a way to escape the health hazards that are brought about by exposed sewerage.
Normally septic tanks are quite complicated and need permission from the council and town planner’s assessment of the yards and capacity.
This is mainly because they cause a lot more harm if they are not properly built.
Residents confided to this reporter that they have been paying money to the municipality for something that they should be doing, as part of service delivery on their part.
“We have tried to reach out to the council but nothing permanent has been done to deal with the problem. We have to make contributions so that they can come and fix the problem, which by the end of two weeks will be back again,” said Mrs Mudzingwa a resident in one of the affected areas in Chitungwiza.
Acting Town Clerk Tongai Kasu confirmed that they have been faced with a problem when it comes to burst and old pipes.
So what is the way forward Mr Town Clerk?
“The municipality is trying its best to take care of the situation,” he said.
He also revealed that the municipality had been awarded funds so that it can deal with sewer problems.
“The Municipality has received a grant of just over US$1 million from the African Development Bank under the ZimFund Phase 2 project.
“This funding is being used to repair and rehabilitate the troublesome sewage hotspots in Chitungwiza,” said Mr Kasu.
Dangers of Backyard Septic Tanks
Some of the problems that can be brought about by building septic tanks outside the required distance include infecting ground water.
In this particular area of Unit M, they have not received water in more than a year and most of the residents decided to dig wells for easy access to water since there is a shortage of community boreholes.
There is a high chance that septic tanks will affect most wells and create a bigger health crisis.
Gas explosions, bacterial and viral infections could also emanate from illegally digging backyard septic tanks giving way to cholera and typhoid.
The biggest problem is the physical harm that could be caused by septic tanks chief among them their collapsing.
Recently in Marimba Park a ten-year-old boy fell into a septic tank after it collapsed and died on spot.
It is because of these types of tragedies that the Town Clerk said the Municipality is discouraging residents from building septic tanks.
“It’s in contravention of our urban planning laws, given the high density set up of Chitungwiza.
“Those residents that continue to illegally build septic tanks shall face penalties and prosecution under the law, “he said
However without any alternative and imminent solution it’s most likely that many will continue building the dangerous septic tanks.