Editor's Comment

Cage criminals cashing in on cholera

AS A quick intervention in the cholera epidemic which has hit seven townships in Lusaka, Government installed pipes and taps in the affected areas.

Government through Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company is also distributing free water and chlorine to residents in the affected areas which are Kanyama, Misisi, Mazyopa, Chipata, Chawama, John Laing and Garden.
Government has so far spent K2.6 million on providing free water to the seven affected townships.
This intervention is out of the realisation that if people in these unplanned areas continue to depend on shallow wells for drinking water, the fight against cholera will not be won.
This is because drinking contaminated water is one of the major causes of cholera and this is what these shallow wells provide.
Government has every reason to be concerned, given that the number of cases recorded countrywide has reached 912.
For a disease that is highly contagious, this number is already huge and can easily swell to unmanageable levels, if not dealt with in an effective and efficient manner.
This is why Government is trying to contain the situation through installation of pipes and taps as well as distribution of water and chlorine.
We are, however, taken aback by reports that unscrupulous people have seen this as an opportunity to enrich themselves and are stealing the newly installed pipes and taps.
As though that is not bad enough, residents are said to be selling the water and chlorine being provided to them by Government.
Zambia National Public Health Institute director, Victor Mukonka rightly notes that these self-centred people are frustrating various stakeholder efforts to combat cholera.
“It is unfortunate that some people are selling chlorine labelled ‘Not for sale’, which Government and its partners are distributing.
“We urge members of the public to take ownership of their lives because Government alone cannot contain the disease,” Dr Mukonka said.
It is really saddening and unacceptable that the same people who Government is trying to help are the ones frustrating its efforts.
If Government decided to fold its arms and do nothing about the cholera situation in the affected areas, it is the same people who will suffer and probably die of the disease.
In as much as it is Government’s responsibility to provide basic amenities, it is also the obligation of citizens to look after these facilities well.
In this case, it is expected that residents of the affected areas are equally concerned about safeguarding their lives.
It is therefore expected that any facilities or interventions put in place to safeguard their lives will be well appreciated and taken care of.
It is disappointing that people do not seem to care about their lives as much as Government does. This is why they can steal the very pipes and taps meant to channel clean water to them.
This is also why they can sell the water and chlorine provided for them to safeguard their lives from cholera.
Some residents are reportedly selling free water at between 50 ngwee and K2 per 20-litre container.
Surely can life be worth the amounts they are selling the water for?
What these residents do not understand, if they do not already know, is that they are negating efforts aimed at fighting cholera, thereby making their lives vulnerable.
If cholera is not contained, the same people selling water and chlorine and stealing water facilities will be the victims.
While these unscrupulous individuals may just be a few, their evil acts have far reaching effects on the larger community.
The criminal acts by these individuals are a threat to human life and should therefore be put to a stop.
Law enforcement agencies should get on the ground and investigate this matter so that the culprits are brought to book. Those that are buying stolen stuff should also be warned, if not brought to book, too.
We also expect residents in these areas to support the law enforcers by reporting anyone found to be selling stolen water pipes and taps.
If these criminal activities are not halted in the affected areas, we can expect that cholera will be a companion for a much longer period.

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