Editor's Comment

Water should be clean, safe at all times

THE rainy season is here and so is the threat of water-borne diseases outbreak.
Lusaka is still reeling from one of its worst outbreaks of cholera, which ultimately altered people’s lifestyles.
Apart from people dying, it affected businesses, especially in the central business district of Lusaka, where most shops had to be closed for long spells as the military moved in to clean up the city and removed vendors.
The military extended its operations to most townships in Lusaka where shallow wells were buried.
Given the gravity of the recent cholera outbreak, Lusaka residents require timely and factual information regarding public health matters to be on guard.
More importantly, citizens need quality service provision, especially when it concerns their health.
In the area of water provision, water utility companies play a very important role. In the case of Lusaka, the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) has a responsibility to provide clean and safe drinking water to the two million-plus residents.
It is disheartening that samples collected from parts of Nyumba Yanga, Kabulonga and Ibex Hill in Lusaka have revealed that the water is contaminated.
LWSC managing director Jonathan Kampata said officers from the company, the Ministry of Health, Lusaka City Council and the Zambia Institute of Public Health are still investigating the matter.
Mr Kampata said although the tests revealed contamination, the affected areas are serviced by two boreholes which are not contaminated.
What the company did on Thursday by issuing a statement alerting people about the water being contaminated is the way to go and in fact commendable.
LWSC is mandated to supply treated water in the capital city and should be seen to do just that.
It pumps the water from the Kafue River and other sources, purifies it and then distributes it for consumption.
However, given that the infrastructure is old, the water may get contaminated along the way.
That is why LWSC should be proactive in terms of testing the water at various stages of the distribution chain and, where the commodity is found wanting, alert citizens.
It is now rainy season in Zambia and LWSC should have been on top of things in as far as sensitising the public about the possibility of water getting contaminated.
In this case, residents of Lusaka Province would have two options: either boil the water or apply chlorine.
In fact, boiling water is an age-old wisdom as a safety measure against contaminated water.
This is because even bottled water may not be trusted, especially the one bought on the streets, because it may have been packaged in the townships.
With the cholera outbreak which ravaged Lusaka and some parts of the country still on people’s minds, the issue of contaminated water cannot be treated lightly.
It’s a serious health hazard with ghastly consequences if not handled properly. Citizens also have a responsibility to protect water infrastructure. Infrastructure is for the good of society and any vandal should not only be frowned upon but prosecuted.
It is clear that LWSC should improve its inspection to ensure no resident is made to consume contaminated water.
After all, it is said that water is life and every caution should be taken regarding its management.

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