By Judith Sibanda
Environmentalists in Victoria Falls say the prime resort town is sitting on a health time bomb as hundreds of residents have resorted to staying in squatter camps without proper ablution facilities due to high rental charges.
The environmentalists fear they might be an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as Cholera.
Over the past seven months, there has been an influx of illegal settlers, many of whom are attracted to the town by the tourism activities.
Most of these illegal settlements are found in Aerodrome, Mkhosana, Garikai, Chinotimba, and BC847.
Greenline Africa Trust director Charleen Herwatt said the town has been experiencing an uncontrollable army of green flies caused by the squatters who practice open defecation.
“The whole town is infested with uncontrollable flies and we have received a report that one tourism player got ill and was diagnosed with cholera symptoms after flies contaminated her food… all that waste when it rains goes straight into the Zambezi river which is absolutely not right and poses a threat to the tourism industry and the animals as well,” she said.
“If waste is not properly managed, we shall in the near future record uncontrollable cholera outbreaks.”
Victoria Falls Municipality Town Clerk Ronnie Dube said there have been multiple efforts to vacate the settlers amid resistance.
“As Council, we don’t condone illegal settlements because it brings about social ills like prostitution, dumping and health consequences due to poor hygiene,” he said.
“We have started sending our security officials to force them out of those settlements because this is a very sensitive town and does not give a good impression to our tourists and sanity of the town in general.”
Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Ndlovu addressing tourism operators in Victoria Falls recently said the rate at which the resort town was being polluted was alarming.
“The rate at which we are polluting our environment and our river (Zambezi) is greatly alarming, so we want to reverse the trend. We will have stiffer penalties for reckless solid waste disposal applicable to each individual and Environmental Management Agency (EMA) is working on that and shall be implemented in no time,” said the Minister.Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Ndlovu
He added that his ministry will soon introduce a ‘clean up and beyond’ campaign nationwide where every citizen will be involved.
Herwatt suggested that the government should formulate a code of conduct that should be followed by every resident in order to keep the town safe from diseases.
“Civil servants who stay in government complexes are also refusing to take their garbage to the refuse collectors and instead prefer digging litter pits per each household and those are other people fuelling the crisis.”
Council says in addition to government workers, open-air worshippers were also polluting the environment as their churches have no water and toilets.
Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association chapter recently mobilised residents to clean up the town mainly in squatter houses, streets and at bus termini.
Victoria Falls has been gazetted as one of the country’s special economic zones.