Our government always come up with wrong solutions to solve problems despite the correct solutions staring them in the eye. The problem of Cholera, typhoid and other waterborne diseases cannot be wholly attributed to vendors selling their wares and fruits at undesignated sites, but mainly due to poor sanitation in the residential areas. Designation of vending sites does not make the environs clean, but concerted efforts have to be made to ensure cleanliness.
If you go to Chikwanha and Mbare Musika markets today, you will not stand the stench of rotting garbage right next to the vending stalls. This invites flies, which contaminate fruits and vegetables being sold at a designated vending sites with faecal matter. Besides the rotting garbage, the toilets at the market are hardly clean and when being cleaned, the water is allowed to flow right into the market and car park.
The same situation is found at all the designated market sites: Lusaka in Highfield, Charge Office, Fourth Street, Market Square and Copacabana vegetable markets, just to mention a few. On the other hand, if you go to a street corner, where vegetable or fruit vendors operate from, you actually find it cleaner than the established marketplaces.
While having vendors selling their wares on street corners might be an eyesore for the well-to-do, I believe they really don’t pose any danger of disease in the capital. When you look at the pattern of disease outbreaks in the city, the trend is they start in Mbare and St Mary’s where sanitation standards are at their lowest. If inner city vending was the main cause of diseases, then the outbreaks would have been sporadic and random in all residential areas as most people spend the day in the central business district.
If local authorities had carried out a simple scientific study of the pattern of occurrences of diseases, they surely would have established that vending has nothing to do with the outbreak of typhoid.
The major causes of outbreaks are uncollected garbage in residential areas, lack of running water in most high density suburbs at a time dirty water is flowing into unprotected wells used by residents and blocked drainage systems, particularly in the high-density areas. We actually run the risk of an outbreak of cholera as garbage continues to pile in the densely-populated areas with baby diapers now a common part of the garbage.