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Makokoba: Covid-19 implosion in waiting

02 Aug, 2020 - 00:08 0 Views
Makokoba: Covid-19 implosion in waiting

The Sunday News

Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
THE past week saw health authorities identifying Covid-19 hotspot suburbs in Bulawayo, and reporting that 25 out of the 40 suburbs in the city have been hit by the deadly pandemic.

Cowdray Park, Magwegwe West, Nkulumane and Emganwini were identified as the Covid-19 hotspots with health officials hinting that localised lockdowns will be implemented in these respective suburbs to contain the spread of the pandemic.

As of Friday, Bulawayo had 847 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 798 of those being local transmissions inclusive of 18 deaths. While authorities have pressed the panic button regarding the ever-rising cases, taking a drive around the city’s oldest suburb, Makokoba, is a hair-raising experience, painting a totally different story to this global fight against the deadly pandemic.

Second and third streets have turned into the Bulawayo version of Cape Town’s Long Street. People of all ages, both male and female line up the street openly drinking different types of alcohol. Most of them either sharing a mug or container of opaque beer, clear beer or suspiciously looking recycled soft drink bottles where they dilute various types of alcohol.

Most of the residents do not even put on masks and because they are sharing their alcoholic beverages they are not even adhering to another Covid-19 preventative guideline of social distancing. A quick enquiry reveals that a good number of these houses along these two streets have turned into shebeens, illegally selling all types of alcohol. Further into the suburb at a popular meeting point known as Efusini, vendors have turned it into a mini-market square.

Close to 100 vendors have set up illegal stalls selling all types of wares from vegetables to fruits, grocery items and even clothes. People go about this mini-market oblivious of the threat posed by the coronavirus, ironically some are even selling face masks with those selling not even wearing them. Makokoba Member of Parliament Mr James Sithole expressed concern at the attitude being exhibited by residents in the suburb. He noted that the suburb’s set up was unique in a manner that there was overcrowding meaning that if there was an outbreak of the pandemic in the suburb it could be highly fatal.

Imbibers ignore lockdown protocols in Makokoba recently

He said there was a need for authorities to adopt a deliberate policy to handle the chaos taking place in the suburb before things got out of hand.

“In Makokoba we have had the problem of overcrowding for quite some time, this ranging from colonial shared accommodation phenomenon right to our small semi-detached like houses where you find up to 15 people sharing a single room, therefore if the pandemic breaks out in such a setup surely it will spread like a veldfire.

“Most people will think the Covid-19 guidelines are there to disturb their daily routines which is not true at all because these guidelines are meant to protect them. This virus is real and I think if we do not change our attitudes it will surely wipe us out of existence,” said the MP.

According to statistics provided by the Bulawayo City Council out of 4 802 households in the suburb, 500 are under the shared accommodation scheme. Based on the colonial era type of accommodation, most people who lived in the suburb were working class men, who left their wives back in the rural areas, therefore at the end of the day there was no need for privacy and overcrowding was not much of an issue.

The shared accommodation facility in Makokoba was adopted in the colonial era as a remedy to the accommodation problems in the city and was mainly meant for men who were working in town while their wives and children remained in the rural areas.

Ward Seven councillor, Shadreck Sibanda reiterated Mr Sithole’s sentiments noting, however, that as political leaders it was difficult for them to engage drunkards on the dangers of the pandemic and the need to adhere to the Covid-19 preventative guidelines.

“We have informed the police, who are the enforcement authorities, but what is worrying is that after these people, especially vendors, are dispersed by the police, they return to their stalls shortly afterwards because for most this is their source of livelihood.

“Further, efforts to engage the people who drink along the streets is also an impossible task for us political leaders because these people might turn rowdy and even attack us but my wish is for people to realise the dangers they are exposing themselves to by not following the Covid-19 prevention guidelines,” said Clr Sibanda.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police were there to enforce the national lockdown regulations and assist the Government in its fight against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic hence if any member of the public is caught going against lockdown regulations, they would face the full wrath of the law. He noted that it was disappointing that more people were deliberately ignoring lockdown regulations not realising that they were exposing themselves to the pandemic.
“We are aware that they are illegal shebeens that are operating, of which this is in itself illegal. We have arrested quite a number of such patrons and we call upon the public that if they have such operations within their communities, they should not hesitate to report them to the police,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said the public just had to change their attitude towards the pandemic noting that with the current deliberate ignorance to lockdown regulations there could be a danger of the pandemic further spreading.

“Further, efforts to engage the people who drink along the streets is also an impossible task for us political leaders because these people might turn rowdy and even attack us but my wish is for people to realise the dangers they are exposing themselves to by not following the Covid-19 prevention guidelines,” said Clr Sibanda.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police were there to enforce the national lockdown regulations and assist the Government in its fight against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic hence if any member of the public is caught going against lockdown regulations, they would face the full wrath of the law. He noted that it was disappointing that more people were deliberately ignoring lockdown regulations, not realising that they were exposing themselves to the pandemic.

“We are aware that they are illegal shebeens that are operating, of which this is in itself illegal. We have arrested quite a number of such patrons and we call upon the public that if they have such operations within their communities, they should not hesitate to report them to the police,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.

Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said the public just had to change their attitude towards the pandemic, noting that with the current deliberate ignorance to lockdown regulations there could be a danger of the pandemic further spreading.

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