Analysis: PATSON PHIRI
FIFTY years down the memory track, the bulk of Lusaka has only known pit latrines, open defection and septic tanks as a means of human waste disposal.
Fifty years down the road, there has been no investment in sanitation system expansion, leaving the residents without anything that could be referred to as decent sanitation. The absence of toilets, coupled with inadequate sewer systems has been one of the worst forms of irritants, to which the residents of Lusaka have been subjected. In fact, to say that there is poor sanitation infrastructure is actually endorsing a non-existent system. The most decent thing to say is that there has been literally nothing befitting an ideal public toilet for a capital city. Because of this, residents had resorted to erecting pit latrines while others went for advanced pit latrines, which they are calling septic tanks, whatever that means. Better still, the worst case scenario has been the use of open space and the rest is not news. Today, I feel compelled to put together an intercourse on the recent interventions by the international financiers to fund the water utility, Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company, for purposes of changing that picture and speak change. For that matter, I speak a Lusaka Sanitation Master Plan to construct 12,000 on-site sanitation facilities and decentralised wastewater management systems that has been laid bare. For the first time after several decades, Lusaka will have the dignity of using something special that will replace pit latrines. The obvious long-term benefit of this is change of mindset that will come with the new innovation. With this, residents should get out of the primeval system and begin to look at toilets as a symbol of decency. These toilets will benefit about 37,000 households in total by sharing among small sets of families so that dependence on pit-latrines is reversed back to sender. These facilities will be constructed in Chawama, Kanyama and George compounds for a start. Eventually, it is hoped, the project will be simulated to other peri-urban areas of the city of Lusaka. I desire to mention that these toilets are not the ordinary ones where waste is drained underground. Under this concept, when the toilets are full, the waste will be emptied into trucks or tankers for delivery to the treatment plants where they will be processed into usable economic tools such as tiles, ropes, desks and building support materials, among others. Four fecal sludge management facilities will be constructed in Chawama, Kanyama, Matero, and Chelston for purposes of treating waste from these areas. Additionally, all customers with sewer connections to Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company will benefit from the rehabilitation of waste water treatment plants in Chunga and Ngwerere. This project has epic benefits considering that while households are being targeted for these facilities, there are 100 public toilets that are under construction in schools, clinics and markets in Lusaka. These are being constructed in Chunga, Matero, Lilanda, Kaunda Square, Munali, Chelston, Kamanga and Chainda. The project will also expand and rehabilitate the existing sewer line by 520 kilometres around Matero, Chunga, Kafue road, Northmead, Rhodespark, Emmasdale, Chaisa, Garden, Villa Elizabetha, Sikanze camp, Chipata compound, Chamba Valley, while several sewer tank-mains will be rehabilitated. In my final portions of this discourse, I propose to state that this is not just any of the groceries of promises by Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company, but a real activity that has already taken off. For instance, two contractors are already building 23 public toilets in schools, clinics and markets. They moved on site on July 14, 2017. The other two contractors are working on constructing 54 public toilets in schools, clinics and markets and this project started in August 2017, while one contractor constructing the boundary fence at Matero ponds has been working since June 2017. So this is one big project that the people of Lusaka should look out for. It should also be made clear that this project will involve knocking down wall fences to allow LWSC contractors to tap into the septic tanks so that their systems are connected to Lusaka Water sewer network for safer disposal to the ponds. The contractor will be compelled to rebuild such wall fences and landscapes to minimise inconvenience. Certain things are an inconvenience, but necessity should interface with inconvenience to achieve convenience.The author is marketing and public relations manager at Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company.