The Sunday Mail
A fortnight ago, I drove into Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) along Julius Nyerere Way at about 10pm as I headed north towards Samora Machel Avenue. I could not believe my eyes. The amount of dirt that was on that section from Seke Road and Kenneth Kaunda flyover was something else.
Of course, we have often spoken about how Harare has become a really dirty place, but nothing prepared me for what I saw.
There was rubbish strewn all over the place and on both sides of the road. It was as if a truckload of garbage had been offloaded in the middle of the road. It was a really sad sight. People were walking about as if it was daylight. My heart really broke. How had service delivery reached such lows?
The next morning, I called the Harare City Council corporate affairs manager just to inquire why this was so. He said efforts were being made to restore cleanliness, but the major problem was that vendors were now coming into town in their numbers in the evenings to sell their wares, capitalising on the volumes of people up and about the CBD throughout the night.
But what did that have to do with the levels of dirt given that these days there are bins at most corners and after every few metres along the roads? It was a question I asked myself, but did not have an immediate answer.
Is it because we no longer care about our environs? Could it be failure by the city council to collect garbage that has normalised throwing dirt everywhere because there already is dirt everywhere?
Is it because of lax regulations or poor enforcement of the regulations? Is someone at Town House sleeping on the job or could the current turnover of councillors be affecting programmes to clean up the city.
But whatever the reasons or excuses, the state of affairs is just not on.
A few months ago, we addressed these issues in a letter to the former Mayor Ian Makone. We sincerely hope the current mayor has gone through the pending tray where the letter awaits actioning.
Harare continues to cry for action. The city council must consider the state of affairs an emergency, and sort this mess.
Residents, on the other hand, must act responsibly. Throw litter in the bin and be quick to admonish the next person who throws litter everywhere.
I have witnessed people throwing litter out of the window as they drive their cars while some just drop litter anywhere and everywhere. But what do the city by-laws say? Is there no fine for such irresponsible behaviour?
It is sad that Harare, renowned for its rich cultural heritage and historical significance, has one glaring issue that plagues the city — lack of cleanliness in the CBD and residential areas,
Concerted efforts must be made to address the cleanliness challenges. Research has shown that there are a number of strategies and initiatives that can be implemented to make Harare a clean, green and thriving city once again.
Creating a clean city starts with raising awareness among the residents about the importance of cleanliness and instilling a sense of civic responsibility. Public campaigns, educational programmes and community engagement initiatives can play a vital role in promoting a clean city culture.
These efforts should emphasise the environmental, health and economic benefits of a clean city, encouraging residents to actively participate in keeping Harare clean. Additionally, enlisting the support of local schools, religious institutions and community organisations can help mobilise a broader segment of society towards this common goal.
Efforts have been made under the President’s clean-up campaign.
Effective waste management is crucial for maintaining a clean city. Harare should invest in modern infrastructure and equipment for waste collection, transportation and disposal. The city authorities should collaborate with private waste management companies to improve the efficiency and reliability of waste collection services
Furthermore, encouraging the adoption of waste segregation practices at the source and implementing recycling programmes can significantly reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
Also, the establishment of recycling centres and composting facilities can help manage organic waste more sustainably. It is essential to ensure that waste management services are accessible to all areas of the city, including informal settlements, and that waste collection schedules are strictly adhered to.
Public infrastructure plays a pivotal role in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene. Harare should prioritise the development and maintenance of adequate public toilets, garbage bins and waste disposal facilities throughout the city, with particular attention to high-traffic areas like the CBD.
Regular cleaning and maintenance of these facilities should be conducted to ensure their functionality and cleanliness.
The city should invest in upgrading and expanding the sewage and drainage systems to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water, which can lead to the spread of diseases. This is a major challenge that has gone on for years.
Promoting the use of eco-friendly materials in public spaces, such as using solar-powered street lights and encouraging the planting of trees, can contribute to a more sustainable and visually appealing urban environment.
To enforce cleanliness standards effectively, Harare should strengthen law- enforcement efforts. Implementing stricter regulations and penalties for littering, illegal dumping and other environmental violations will serve as a deterrent and promote a culture of compliance. The city authorities should work closely with law-enforcement agencies to ensure the effective implementation of these regulations. This could be the game changer.
Furthermore, community involvement in monitoring and reporting cleanliness-related violations can be encouraged through the establishment of hotlines or mobile applications. By empowering residents to take an active role in reporting offenders, the city can foster a sense of collective responsibility and deter potential violators.
Transforming Harare into a clean and vibrant city requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses raising awareness, improving waste management, enhancing public infrastructure and strengthening law enforcement. The city authorities must take the lead in implementing these strategies, but the active participation of residents and the collaboration of various stakeholders are equally essential.
By collectively working towards this common goal, Harare can overcome its cleanliness challenges and emerge as a shining example of a clean, green and thriving city, providing a better quality of life for its residents and attracting visitors from around the world. This is not too ambitious. Cleanliness is a basic requirement that must not be compromised.
If it means Town House has to start shifts where some employees work at night to enforce by-laws and to clean the city, let it be so.
The corporate sector could also adopt roads and take care of them to complement efforts by council. It is our collective responsibility to keep the city clean.
In God I Trust!