THE cholera outbreak in Lusaka is serious and does not appear to be abetting going by the ever rising number of cases.
As of yesterday, the number increased from 36 to 69 with 70 percent of this figure being children, a worrisome situation indeed.
But even more terrifying is information emerging now that the indiscriminate sinking of boreholes has contributed to the spread of the water-borne disease as one source is contaminated.
That’s not all, 80 percent of sources of water in Lusaka are contaminated because of uncontrolled sinking of boreholes, according to Lusaka Water and Sewerage Board Chairperson Paul Moonga.
It is unthinkable and disturbing that some people had resorted to sinking boreholes closer to septic tanks resulting in water mixing with contaminated substances.
Given this grave scenario, there is urgent need to stop the indiscriminate drilling of boreholes to forestall a health crisis of alarming proportions in the city.
As Mr Moonga observed, there is need for the Government to quickly come up with stringent measures embodied in a national policy to curb free-for-all drilling of boreholes throughout the country.
Failure to do so will result in a health crisis of alarming proportions which will be difficult to control. As they say, prevention is better than cure and it’s not too late for the government to act.
Admittedly, Lusaka is among the most affected areas where it has become fashionable for people building houses to drill their own borehole mainly because the council’s newly opened areas are not serviced with piped water.
While we are aware that early this year the government hinted that it would come up with a statutory instrument to regulate drilling of boreholes, it’s lamentable that since then the nation has not heard about this again.
But better late than never! We therefore implore the government to seriously revisit the issue of the regulatory statutory instrument to avert the looming catastrophe.
Presently the disease is restricted to a handful of compounds in Lusaka, but with continued indiscriminate sinking of boreholes chances are that it may spread to other areas of the city.
If nothing is done fast, we are afraid, the levels or extent of the contamination risks increasing from 80 to even 95 percent – anything is possible!
What we find disturbing is that all this while the nation has been sitting on a time bomb of a serious nature in terms of water contamination arising from unregulated sinking of boreholes.
And now that the time bomb is about to explode, it is high time the relevant ministry and other agencies that look into the environment and water resources of the nation put their heads together to find a lasting solution to this bothersome situation.
Yes, we appreciate the ministry’s efforts in protecting our water resources, but certainly more needs to be done by coming up with the relevant polices and laws to ensure that drilling or sinking boreholes is controlled.
But good policies and regulations in themselves mean nothing if those charged with the responsibility of enforcing them abrogate their role. With proper enforcement, indiscriminate drilling of boreholes will be a thing of the past.
It is our hope that government will move swiftly to prevent a looming health calamity which may result if more water sources got contaminated.