Editorial: Lusaka cholera puzzle: vandalism shouldn’t be ruled out

Op-Ed

Each year Lusaka tops with souring cholera statistics and all fingers point to sewer effluent mixing with drinking water.

As a way of preventing the incessant outbreaks of cholera, Government and its stakeholders have always discouraged residents from using shallow wells that are often sunk near pit latrines which during the rainy season filtrate to each other.

But the signal by Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company Managing Director Jonathan Kampata that the water utility is battling with vandalism of its manhole covers which are stolen and sold to scrap metal dealers brings another insight to the cholera puzzle.

As simple as the signal seems, the repercussions of stealing manhole covers are fatal for Lusaka which has been grappling with cholera almost annually and it also changes the narrative that burying shallow wells is the only tonic for the situation.

The water utility boss has clearly pointed out the vandalism spiking factor, which is the immediate market at the backyard, the scrap metal dealers.

Ignoring anyone and anything that could be the cause of seasonal cholera may result in failure to win the fight of the dirty disease-cholera.

On a rainy day, an open-blocked manhole is a serious threat which can easily spill its feacal matter into the drainage system and other unwanted areas.

The news about vandalism from Lusaka Water must not be treated with kids’ gloves if Government really wants to combat the seasonal cholera outbreaks in Lusaka which this year alone claimed more than 100 lives.

Previously, the country has faced the vandalism of rail tracks which were being torched into pieces that also found their way into scrap yards thereby leading to some train derailment.

Government showed political will by formulating a Statutory Instrument to prevent scrap metal dealers from buying rail tracks.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act Chapter 409 of the Laws of Zambia section 1d forbids the buying of stolen scrap metal.

Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection Dr Dennis Wanchinga could equally push for the formulating of a more direct SI to prevent selling of manhole covers in a way to curb possible outbreaks of cholera.