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UGANDA: Mbale town stinks from garbage and shit

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Poor sanitation. Sewage flowing through Mbale Town last week. PHOTO BY LEONARD MUKOOLI

Mbale residents grapple with leaking sewer lines

MBALE (DAILY MONITOR) – Residents of Mbale Town are at risk of contracting sanitation-related diseases as a result of leaking sewer lines and uncollected garbage.
Most of the business areas such as Taxi Park, Bus Park, Mbale Central Market are surrounded by broken sewers and garbage heaps, which produce an unpleasant smell.
Residents are forced to hold their breath when passing through the street alleys, especially when it has just rained.Ms Annet Namuwenge, a trader in Mbale Taxi Park, says they have been operating from the filthy environment for the last 10 years.
“We have lived with open sewer lines for long and many people have fallen sick due to negligence of our leaders,” she says.

Ms Namuwenge adds that this is responsible for the continuous outbreak of cholera, dysentery, typhoid and diarrhoea in the area.
Mr Robert Nagwere, a resident, says apart from garbage, streets are now littered with human excreta wrapped in polythene bags.
“We pay a lot of money to the municipal council but they have decided to subject us to this filthy environment. When you are moving on the street alleys, you have to cover your nose to avoid the stench,” he says.

Mr Kefa Mafabi, a vendor in Mbale Central Market, says they have got used to the odour but he pities his customers, who are often seen covering their noses to avoid stench.
“We are making losses because customers have been chased away by the smell. Those that come always order us to serve them very first and they leave,” Mr Mafabi says.
Ms Jane Alingati, who operates a restaurant in Bus Park, blames the problem on municipal officials. “Our leaders have abandoned us and are instead being compromised and approve developers to construct along the stream and cause diversion of sewage into the river,” he says.

Mr Siraji Masangazi, the spokesperson Mbale Taxi Drivers, Conductors and Owners Association, says the park is soaked in waste whenever it rains.
“The park is full of waste and this has put our lives and passengers in danger. We have complained but in vain,” Mr Masangazi says.
Mr Akimu Watenyere, a resident, blames the mess on the National water and Sewerage and Cooperation (NWSC).

“NWSC have failed to rectify the problem of sewage in Mbale Town for years,” Mr Watenyere, says.
The town clerk, Mr Paul Batanda, acknowledges the problem of sewage in town.
“Sewage belongs to NWSC not the municipal council. Although the municipal council has a problem of failing to stop people from building on sewer lines and uncollected garbage, NWSC has a problem of sewage,” he says.

Leaders speak out
The municipality spokesperson, Mr James Kutosi says the council has engaged the NWSC to solve the problem of sewage. “The sewage system in Mbale was constructed in 1950s and it is old and need to be repaired,” Mr Kutosi says.
The NWSC manager Mbale Branch, Ms Agnes Aketch, says they are working on the sewerage system. “We have come up with a permanent solution and I believe when we have implemented it, sewage will not be a problem any longer,” Ms Aketch says.

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