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FEMALE police officers in Bulawayo have decried the non-availability of ablution facilities during deployment at roadblocks, often suffering the humiliation of using nearby bushes to relieve themselves.
"As female police officers, we are having a challenge at the roadblocks," one police officer told NewZimbabwe.com.
"Because of our biological make-up, we are being sexually harassed by our male counterparts while relieving ourselves in the bush. Sometimes we are forced to wait until nightfall to seek the privacy of darkness to relieve ourselves."
Following the introduction of Covid-19 lockdown regulations by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in March this year, police and the army have set up a number of permanent roadblocks along all major roads leading into cities and towns.
However, most of the roadblocks are now a health time bomb as the security personnel manning the checkpoints are left with no option but to relieve themselves in the open.
Very often commuters have to spend hours queuing at the roadblocks and have to also relieve themselves in the same open spots.
Some residents who own properties near the roadblocks have implored both central government and the city council to address the issue.
"Relevant authorities should make sure that each roadblock has either portable or permanent toilets depending on the frequency of that roadblock.
"Commuters and police officers have turned the area at a permanent roadblock along the Bulawayo/ Harare highway into a mess. The surrounding area is now full of faeces and used sanitary wear all over," said a resident who owns a house near the place.
He said residents have unsuccessfully tried to engage the police, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Bulawayo city council over the issue.
Some of the police officers manning the roadblocks have now resorted to asking for toilets from nearby home owners.
"When police first mounted their roadblock during the lockdown, I used to allow the police officers to use my toilet but I have since stopped that gesture because I realised that I was exposing my family to Covid-19. Now the police officers are just urinating everywhere. Some even use the nearby bushes to defecate.
"What is happening here is really embarrassing. Male and female police officers clashing in bushes while relieving themselves," remarked another resident.
When reached for comment, Bulawayo City Health Services Director, Edwin Sibanda promised to investigate the issue.
"Thanks for bringing the issue to our attention. We will definitely investigate the issue," he said.