A Chinese company working on the construction of a Maseru District Hospital on the plot that previously housed the national Queen Elizabeth II Hospital may be carrying-out the works under felonious conditions, Newsday has learnt.
This after an outcry arose by street vendors operating from the vicinity of the construction site that there may have been interference with an official water piping network connection as there seemed to be a constant sewage overspill disrupting their business.
The embittered the street vendors located next to the Kingsway road said the leaking had been going on since January and has cost some street vendors their businesses as they had to vacate due the unbecoming conditions, while some still continue to operate in the midst of the reeking leaks from the construction residential area.
Jane Khama, a street vendor whose shack is located exactly next to the sewage leaks said they had made attempts to call the Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) to alert them about the situation but all attempts had been fruitless as until this day, they are still forced to operate under the unhygienic conditions.
He said after their first call, some WASCO officials had come to inspect the situation and were told that the problem was being caused by the construction site. He said they were told that the Chinese have illegally connected a sewer line which excretes sewage though the drainage located next to their stalls hence sewage goes out through the drainages.
He said the officials left and days past without them returning to fix the problem until they decided to call again to re-inquire about the problem.
Khama said they had been given a name and a cell phone number of someone they should call but the number was unavailable.
“What shocked us was why they wanted us to keep looking someone we don’t even know when they could help us find that person so that the problem is solved,” he said, adding that after a few days WASCO officials came again where they assisted with a manhole which had burst in another vendor’s shack. Khama said they were told again that the problem was triggered by the Chinese with the illegal connection.
“The manhole was fixed but there was still sewage leaking from the drainage. Days after the fixing of the first manhole another one burst so this time they decided to call Maseru City Council (MCC) who promised to come check but never came,” he said.
He said until this day, there is no help they have gotten from both MCC and WASCO saying the conditions make it hard for them to work as during the day the stench gets stronger and this affects their business.
Newsday Newspaper got to inspect the area with leakages of sewage running through some of the vendors’ stalls while there are some areas where the sewage is just stagnant with cars splashing it when driving past.
Though Newsday was sent from pillar to post in trying to find someone responsible to talk to, this paper was able to see the Chinese residential area where sewage seems to be coming from. This was where a waste water disposal area located right inside was seen, giving an impression that waste water is being dumped there.
The company is working at the construction of the rebuilding of the hospital funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China with about M800 million with expectations that it will start its operations in 2023.
The much bigger Maseru Hospital is expected to benefit at least 400 000 people in Maseru and other districts.
Construction was initially supposed to have begun in 2018 but that did not happen due to the government’s delay in demolishing Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.
MCC Public Relations Manager ‘Makatleho Mosala, said anything to do with sewage is not their responsibility but that of WASCO.
“Sewage issues are not the responsibility of MCC but of WASCO and are the ones who can answer to this issue,” Mosala said.
Meanwhile, WASCO’s Public Relations Officer Rorisang Mahlo, said the issue needs to be looked into by MCC, WASCO and the construction company to find a better solution for the vendors who are affected by the sewage.
He said it has come to their attention that the vendors are complaining and added that since MCC is responsible for the cleanliness of the city, they should go inspect and engage WASCO if need be.
“Unfortunately it is not our responsibility because WASCO has no burst or blocked pipe on that area but the storm water pipes which are the responsibility of MCC. MCC should inspect and engage WASCO if there is need so that the issue is fixed for the benefit of the affected street vendors,” he said.
A representative of the China Aid told this paper that they are also victims of the leakage because it affects them too. He said it is not their fault saying WASCO has given them a directive on how to do things correctly.
He further told this paper that they are more than happy to pay fines if the leakages are their fault but added that they need WASCO to help in pointing them to the right direction on how the problem can be fixed as they did not even know that the pipes were connected illegally.
He said the pipes were connected before they got to Lesotho and they do not have any information on how illegally they were connected.
Newsday learnt that the company had, upon commencing work on the site, made an application for a drainage system but as the application was being deliberated on had started connecting to the system illegally. Not knowing the drainage systems there, they had connected to a storm water drainage, which when manholes burst caused the waste water to fill up the drainages and contaminate their business area.