BCC Abandons COVID-19 Disinfection Exercise, Stakeholders Concerned
A water cannon disinfects along Herbert Chitepo in Bulawayo on April 7, 2020. Image by BCC
Bulawayo City’s custodian is no longer disinfecting densely populated areas saying there are no resources for this exercise. Despite residents’ concerns, the council says disinfection is not the solution to halting the pandemic’s spread.
BULAWAYO (The Citizen Bulletin) — The abandonment of the disinfecting programme by Bulawayo City Council is sparking fears among residents that there will be an alarming spread of COVID- 19 in the city.
At the inception of the first lockdown, BCC initiated the city's most populated zones disinfection programme, which was carried out almost twice per week.
BCC started the City’s disinfection process with Hydrogen Peroxide as part of its efforts to eliminate the virus’s spread. The first phase targeted the Central Business District, prioritizing areas where there is high human traffic, such as supermarkets, bus termini, and the market area.
The Central Business District programme started on April 7 2020, with the first phase taking four days. Areas sprayed included 13th Avenue, 6th Avenue, Lobengula Street, Fife Street, and market areas along 5th Avenue. Citizens were always being moved away from the areas when spraying was taking place.
The Council had also promised to advise residents when they would disinfect residential areas with more human traffic.
However, a survey conducted by The Citizen Bulletin after the last lockdown was announced shows that the Council has not been conducting the disinfections like it used to do at the start.
Streetwise Informal Traders Association (Swita) director Percy Mcijo has expressed worry that the City Council appears to have stopped the programme in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. He says this is worrying because of the volumes of people now frequenting the city.
Most Swita members operate along Lobengula and Herbert Chitepo Streets. Mcijo says it has been a while since he saw the Council workers spraying the area.
“Of late, I have not seen that disinfection happening; the pandemic has not yet been defeated, even worldwide.”
Percy Mcijo, Swita director
He adds, “No institution or individual should compromise people's lives by neglecting compliance which should be adopted to serve lives, there is no substitute for doing the right thing at the right time for the right purpose.”
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) Chairman Ambrose Sibindi argues that the country is still under siege of COVID-19. Disinfecting all public places should be done periodically, say quarterly or so.
“This exercise should be carried jointly by the government and local authorities. Such an exercise will ensure that the chances of spreading COVID- 19 are minimised. Yes, they sometimes do it but not as massive as they used to do during the initial lockdown. It’s now irregular, no set time,” he says.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) Executive Director Micheal Ndiweni says they were no longer seeing the disinfections taking place and have not gotten any report that the Council was conducting the cleansing activity anymore.
“We have not been seeing Council workers moving around disinfecting the market places for some time now. We often saw the anti-riot water trucks spraying the market place, but we have not been seeing that of late. I think it was a good idea to disinfect marketplaces and I think it would be useful to do so at short intervals such as on Sundays when people are not busy because they spend their time there. So there is likelihood that the marketplace can be infected,” Ndiweni says.
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“It would be a noble idea if that is done. It would be a right thing to at least have a day where trading is closed for disinfection.”
Ndiweni notes that the relaxation of the disinfection programme means there is a high likelihood of market places being infected with COVID-19, thereby posing an increased risk of spreading the disease in the city.
BCC’s Corporate Communications Manager Nesisa Mpofu admits that they have abandoned the disinfection programme due to lack of funding by the central government.
“Recent evidence has shown that maintaining physical distance from one another, the correct and consistent wearing of masks with frequent washing of hands are the most effective measures against COVID 19.”
Nesisa Mpofu, BCC Communications manager
“Vaccines prevent severe forms of the illness and deaths,” adds Mpofu.
She says the disinfection programme was coordinated centrally, adding that the city has no stocks of hydrogen peroxide for the programme at the moment.
Mpofu says the City received the allocation of vaccines for the second phase, and all clinics are vaccination points in addition to the mobile teams.
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Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association, Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association, Disinfection exercise, Bulawayo City Council, COVID-19
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