Gweru residents defecate in alleys, open spaces 

Sydney Mubaiwa 


GWERU – Residents are defecating in alleys and other open spaces in Gweru’s Central Business District (CBD) because the country’s third largest city does not have public toilets, a councillor bemoaned during a meeting last week.

The situation arose after Bentach Resources, a private company went into partnership with Gweru City Council to run Kudzanai Bus Terminus which then housed the largest free public toilet in the CBD. The partners have since turned the toilets into Pay toilets, collecting US$0,50 per person or US$1 for anyone needing a bath.

This is far too much to pay just to use toilet when the majority walk 8km to Mkoba and other suburbs in the city because they cannot afford US$0,50 for bus fare.

Speaking during the 695th ordinary full Council Meeting, Cathrine Mhondiwa called on management to prioritize free public toilets in the CBD.

She said that Gweru is facing a serious water crisis and now the situation in the CBD is being exacerbated by the absence free public toilets.

Gweru United Progressive Residents Development Association (GUPRADA) director David Chikore said it was impossible to achieve a smart city without accessible toilets. 

Residents who spoke to The Mirror complained that alleys and city parks stink of urine and human excreta. They said that the situation is frustrating and they anxiously look forward to the resolution of issue as a matter of urgency.

Mhondiwa said the situation is creating a significant secondary public health risk as people have no option but to relieve themselves in open spaces.  

“We are sitting on a health time bomb and we have a serious problem which needs urgent attention. The issue of free public toilets in the CBD is a cause for concern. We have a few public toilets in the CBD but all of them are now Pay Toilets. 

“This is having a serious impact on the well-being of residents and creating a public health risk as people have no option but to relieve themselves in open spaces and street alleys,” she said.

In his response, health, housing and community services committee chairperson councillor John Manyundwa said he was going to consult management and see if there is a budget for toilets. 

He however encouraged residents to make use of the available pay toilets. 

“I will consult council management on whether we have budgeted for the refurbishment of the toilets this year. If there is no budget for that, we will certainly do that in the next budget. 

“However we keep on encouraging residents to avoid vandalizing available toilets. We also encourage them to use the pay toilets available,” he said. 

“For a city which aspires to be a prosperous middle-income city of choice by the year 2030, I think we are going about it the wrong way.

What we are doing or not doing is actually opposite of what we say if we continue to have no access to public toilets,” he added.

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