The Herald (Harare)

15 February 2012

Zimbabwe: Kwamereki Closure Indefinite

Photo: IRIN
Sewage overflows outside homes in Kuwadzana 3 township in Harare (file photo).

Harare City Council has indefinitely postponed the reopening of the popular braai spot - KwaMereki - until the typhoid outbreak has been completely eradicated.

The open air braai centre was expected to be open last Saturday. City spokesman Mr Leslie Gwindi yesterday confirmed the latest development.

"We are reviewing the situation on a daily basis to check on typhoid. Until we are satisfied that there is no more typhoid in the city we then reconsider the reopening. We do not have a specific date yet," he said.

Food vendors from the joint on Monday briefly camped at Town House calling for the expeditious opening of the place.

Their representative Ms Emily Mereki complained that further delays affected livelihoods of the 30 co-operative members who employ more than 100 workers.

"We were told to wait. We have been waiting ever since. We want to start operations as soon as possible," she said.

Ms Mereki said they had built four toilets and installed a number of washing basins fitted with taped water.

She appealed to shop and butchery owners at Mereki Shopping Centre to assist build more toilets and sprucing up the place.

The food spot was closed a few weeks ago to curb the spread of typhoid.

More than 1 000 people have already been treated of the disease.

The food spot operates on a designated secondary school site and will be moved once money to build is found. But Ms Mereki said the food vendors, who pay monthly rentals of US$280 to council, want the site converted to a full time braai spot.

Zimbabwe Informal Sector Association president Mr John Masekesa wrote to Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda complaining over the displacement of Mereki Gotchie Gotchie Cooperative.

He appealed for the urgent reopening of the braai spot.

In another letter to the director of housing and community services, Mr Masekesa complained that there are other braai places in Harare that have not been closed.

While the city authorities insist that such places as Mereki should have public toilets and flowing tap water, the food vendors argue that council has not been playing its part fully. The vendors accused the city of neglecting the old public toilets and failure to regularly collect garbage.

The city is in the process of testing for communicable diseases in the food and beverage industry to screen those affected. City health director Dr Prosper Chonzi said the city has already met with the food and beverages industry to sell the programme.

"We are doing swab tests, X-rays and the general health check up," he said.

The screening means workers diagnosed with communicable diseases including typhoid will be asked to terminate their employment.

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