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BLAIR TOILETS FOR MOST GOKWE RESIDENTS

Seventy-five percent of Gokwe residents, a town recently touted as one of the fastest growing in Zimbabwe are using Blair toilets, a situation that is a health time bomb and calls for urgent sewerage upgrade.

Gokwe lead master planner, Tatenda Chiteka called on the local authority to immediately phase out Blair toilets and implement stricter waste management practices in the town.

Even in those areas where residents are using sewer system, it’s blocked most of the time, said Chiteka. The sewer system is also failing due to age, design flaws and inadequate maintenance.

He said Gokwe Town which obtained its town status in 2006 relies on underground water as its main source of the precious liquid. This setup compromises health as water sources are contaminated by the Blair toilets. Contamination is exacerbated by the use of Blair toilets in sandy soils, said Chiteka.

Gokwe which grew on the backbone of rich cotton farming in the last few decades has a population of 33 075.

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Chiteka said that the sewer network which is also substandard does not cover the entire town as it leaves whole suburbs unconnected and they include Sasame 1, Sasame 2, Kambasha, most of Mapfungautsi and Njelele. The Central Business District, some parts of Mapfungautsi Old, and the industrial areas are serviced by sewer ponds.

An expert on underground water Precise Panashe Ncube of Green Hut Trust said Blair toilets should be sited at least 30 metres from a water source.

“Gokwe sewer infrastructure needs to be attend to as this is a big challenge to the standard of living and the health of residents.

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“The limited sewer system has seen 75% of the city resorting to Blair toilets and this is a major health concern for an urban area designated as a town.

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“The sewer infrastructure status for Gokwe town can be labelled as not up to standard.

“Nyaradza, a medium-density suburb connected to the sewer network, is currently blocked, rendering the system ineffective and the rest of the town relies on septic tanks and Blair toilets,” said Chiteka.

“Immediate action is needed to address these challenges. It is crucial to expand and redesign the existing sewer network, upgrade infrastructure, and implement stricter waste management practices,” he added.

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