|Local Government Authorities Score card- Harare City Council|
Harare City council and its residents are facing a plethora of service delivery problems. While progress has been made in some areas since the formation of the GNU in 2008, service delivery is still poor in most areas. Poor service delivery has been blamed on the non payment of rates by residents, the stringent economic situation and frustration by the Local Government Ministry. However many of the problems could easily be solved by consulting residents and if some people within council could actually have the decency to do their jobs. For example, why must Harare residents continue to suffer traffic congestion when the city has a dedicated traffic department? Harare authorities are battling to rectify decades of neglect and run down state of key services and infrastructure before the inception of the GNU but more progress could have been made than at the current very slow pace of progress.
Water and sewer provision (3/10) Poor and deteriorating
Although government allocated US$17,1 million to improve service delivery and production figures indicate that water production has increased from about 330ML/day to about 600 ML/day, sewer blockages have reduced from an average of 180 to 15 a day, residents continue to complain of not having water, and burst sewer pipes continue to be unattended to. The water demand for Harare stands at 1400 mega-litres a day. Government has set aside a further US$40 million to rehabilitate water and sewer infrastructure in 2012 and the fruits of these allocations are yet to be seen in improvements of water supply in the hardest hit areas.
Suburbs which include Budiriro, Gunhill, Highlands, Glen Norah, Mandara, Chisipite, Mabelreign, Waterfalls, Borrowdale, Ruwa, Greendale, Mufakose, Hatcliffe and Highfields, go for months without running water while other areas including Mabvuku, Tafara and Msasa Park last had running water in 2006. Despite this, the City Council continues to send bills to residents.
The absence of a work plan and realistic targets by council to at least solve the water problem in any one of these surburbs by a certain period reveals poor management practice.
Council is also facing challenges with residents who continue to evade payment of services rendered. Residents blamed non payment on poor revenue collection methods by council citing that the long queues characterizing council offices discouraged them.
Has council met residents to try and map a way forward? The absence of consultative meetings with the affected residents to either map innovative ideas for solving the problem or ways to save water shows council’s complacency to solve the problem.
Housing (4/10) Poor
Harare’s Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda admitted in 2011 that the city had a huge housing backlog. Over a million people are on the housing list and the list is expected to rise by 5% every year. Council’s Housing department has been blamed for the slow pace of implementing Housing projects.
The housing situation is dire in Mbare with as many as three families sharing a room. This has placed a lot of pressure on sewer services and burst sewer pipes are common in these areas. The overcrowding has become a breeding ground for infectious diseases
In a newspaper report, Mbare’s councilor, Friday Muleya expressed concern that since last year’s launch of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation US$5 million housing project, residents in his area continued to wait in vain. He revealed that he had ten (10) cooperatives he was working with in Kuwadzana but only one which was formed in 2004 was allocated land in February 2004.
According to the Harare City Council’s Education, Housing and Community Services and Licensing Committee minutes dated September 27 2011, CABS Building society entered into an agreement with Council which would result in the construction of low cost housing units in Harare’s high density suburbs. CABS would be allocated 3102 residential stands from the 4558 created from the subdivision earmarked for the Budiriro Housing Development Project. Council also commissioned a US$5 million low cost housing Project with Fidelity. None of these Housing projects have yet benefitted the homeless.
A resident in Mabvuku said “We continue to be placed on the housing list while those with political links along with known political officials fraudulently award themselves residential stands”. This was echoed by another resident in Mufakose who said “If Council is unable to provide housing they must at least fairly award those who can build their own houses with land”
Transport (5/10) Unacceptable
Council spent over US$60 million purchasing new traffic lights in a project aimed at replacing the old malfunctioning ones and this seems to have improved the situation a lot although a number of traffic lights still remain non-functional.
The council has also neglected to put traffic lights in black spots such as Corner Bishop Gaul and Samora Machel and Corner Bishop Gaul and Princess Road.
There have been efforts by the local authority to rehabilitate roads notably Fourth Street, Josiah Chinamano Avenue and Hebert Chitepo Avenue amongst other roads. However some of the resurfaced roads remain with no road markings. Potholes have remained a permanent feature in most of the city roads and roads in the High density residential suburbs.
The chaos characterizing most public transport areas where commuter omnibus operators operate reflect a lack of commitment by council to restore basic order in the city. Designated pick up points in the city are being ignored by commuter omnibus and taxi operators resulting in congestion and chaos. Considering that other cities in the world run successful council bus services it is surprising why the Harare City Council has not commissioned a reliable bus service to replace the unsafe commuter omnibuses
The city authority must be commended for ventures such as the Easipark venture which has created employment for many Harare residents but there has not been much development in the city centre to justify such a profitable venture.
Municipal Health Services (7/10) Satisfactory and improving
The council has been refurbishing most of its hospitals with assistance from donors.
The International Committee of the Red Cross and other donors has assisted Council with drugs and equipment. There are also other partners who assist like the German government.
Its encouraging that council hospitals and clinics are offering better health care services than some government ones with some government hospitals referring patients to council facilities. Council health institutions are also remunerating their staff better than government. The council facilities are also well stocked with drugs and are charging reasonable affordable rates for treatment.
While standards of health provision by council still need improvement the good work and effort put in must not go unnoticed.
A worker with the Harare Medical Aid Society who requested anonymity said “It’s easy to say that health provision has improved by looking at the face of things but you must investigate if the council hospitals and clinics are being used to full capacity. At any given time, the hospitals are carrying fewer people than they should. Also credit must go to the donors who have contributed a lot towards improving the council’s health provision capacity”
Emergency services and disaster preparedness (4/10) Poor and deteriorating
The city council’s ambulance fleet has previously been grounded due to shortages of fuel and spares, paralysing the provision of emergency services. Although fuel and parts can now be readily accessed, the council fleet remains depleted.
A Fire Brigade officer in the ongoing inquest of General Mujuru’s death revealed that the fire department last had a normal fleet in 2000. A spate of fires has recently ravaged buildings in the city and the fire department has been blamed for failing to save the situation often arriving without water if they turn up at all.
The council has also been blamed for being ill equipped to deal with disease outbreaks such Typhoid and Cholera which have been caused by its failure to find a lasting solution to the water problem. According to council figures Fifty (50) cases of typhoid are being reported everyday and more than 1500 people have been treated.
The council’s failure to engage the corporate world and other partners to assist in this regard is unacceptable and shows a lack of commitment to improve the situation. Businesses have said they stand to lose the most from fires and had Council been showing initiative in engaging them towards investing in emergency services they would be forthcoming.
Public Libraries (1/10) Appalling
A visit to the public libraries in the High density areas revealed that the libraries were under resourced. Youths, especially of school going age complained of a shortage of books in the libraries. The nature and physical state of council libraries is pathetic. A resident in Malberiegn praised the council for connecting internet in the local public library.
In Glen Norah, the public library had broken windowpanes; books were old, outdated and torn. Although more people were using the Mbare library it is also acutely under resourced. The poor state of libraries in the city has contributed to poor pass rates and drug and alcohol abuse that has been on the increase.
Refuse collection (2/10) Poor and deteriorating
The Harare City Council was recently fined US$15,000 by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) for non collection of refuse and dumping raw waste in water sources. An interview with residents in several residential suburbs revealed that the council’s refuse truck had not visited some areas in a month and in some areas the refuse truck failed to stick to its timetable.
Residents revealed they were not provided with new bins and did not know where to buy some if they wanted to. A tour around the city also revealed heaps of uncollected rubbish in various places such as the Avenues area, Greater Harare, Copacabana Bus terminus and at residential complexes such as Megawatt Court where residents have resorted to burning their trash. This has made Harare a breeding ground for many preventable diseases.
What is worrying is that culture of denying responsibility is rampant within council and is mainly the reason why simple problems go unrectified in the city for so long. The city’s acting Town clerk denied these charges by EMA only to admit that there were problems with refuse collection after photography and video evidence was produced.
Although the refuse department has fixed detectors on refuse trucks to monitor them, this alone is not enough to solve the refuse collection problem.
While Harare maybe facing financial and capacity challenges to provide services to Harare citizens, the absence of other initiatives to provide the service to citizens raises questions about the city authorities’ commitment towards service delivery. These services have a direct and immediate effect on the quality of the lives of the people in the community. The city can easily improve its service delivery score if all involved can put more effort towards the improvement of services to citizens and uphold the motto, “Keep Harare Clean”.