Residents of Area 18 in Lilongwe city are living dangerously on a ticking bomb as sewer spillage in the area is rampant raising fears of possible more water contamination incidents as both Malawi Housing Corporation a(MHC) and Lilongwe City Council (LCC) are failing to swiftly rectify the situation.
MHC and LCC are the ones who manage the sewer system in the area which, according to the residents, overflows very often but the two institutions are failing to rectify the situation despite recent water contamination incident.
The residents have since bemoaned that the MHC and LCC despite collecting rates from the them rarely rectify sewer leakages which have turned the area into a sewage site ballooned in filthy stench- not befitting the status of the area.
A media tour in the area on Wednesday that was joined by Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) officials and MHC officials as well as some of the concerned residents noted that sewage continues to spill all over the place and prospects of another water contamination incident are high.
The media noted that sewer overflow has become a norm in the area, a situation which has put LWB in a fix as it is currently working on replacing its piping system in the area for the safety of the residents who on Tuesday petitioned Lilongwe District Commissioner (DC).
The most vulnerable parts are Area 18A (Salima Street) and part of Area 18B, and LWB has since raised a red alert flag, arguing they have no other option but to completely shut down water supply in the area until those responsible for sewer management rectify the situation.
Speaking during a press briefing later after the media tour, Lilongwe Water Board Chief Executive officer (CEO) Engineer Alfonso Chikuni said his institution was not responsible for the sewer leakage mess which is putting lives of Area 18 residents at risk of contracting waterborne diseases such as cholera and other bacterial infections.
Chikuni argued that as the situation stands, LWB has been left with no option and is considering shutting down water supply in the area until the sewer problem is rectified.
“We are not responsible for the sewer spillage. As matter of fact we feel equally victimized but we regret the incident which affected our customers. We (the Board) together with our customers are victims,” complained Chikuni.
He then bemoaned the failure by other concerned stakeholders to swiftly react to the water contamination incident that happened last month just as the Board did.
On Tuesday 18th July area was affected by water contamination due to sewer overflow that sipped into the water pipes and LWB has been working on rectifying the problem by, among other initiatives, disinfecting the its supply system in the area to ensure the pipes are thorough clean and it is currently replacing the old pipe network with new one.
However, until now despite promises by MHC and LCC there is little progress on the work to put to end sewer leakages once and for all as sewer pipes continue to burst in the area.
“There is a need for multi-sectoral body to coordinate such situation. We wish if other stakeholders did react at the same time as we did because the sewer leakage in on the rise in the area,” added Chikuni.
Meanwhile, residents of the area through their chairperson Leonard Phiri have pleaded with the Board not to shutdown the water supply until they meet and discuss on the issue.
MHC officials who were present during the press briefing refused to comment on the issue.
Deputy Director for Water Resources in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Peaches Phiri assured the residents that currently the water being supplied in the area is safe and fit for human consumption.
Phiri said the ministry would be conducting water quality tests frequently in all major cities of the country before extending the initiative to districts.
Lilongwe Water Board is yet to come up with analysis of the loss it incurred in replacing water pipes in the area which was not planned.
Meanwhile, LWB has started supplying clean water to the area after cleaning the affected system and has since assured the customers that the water is safe and fit for human consumption.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :