Our cities of squalor

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For us, Ba­sotho, sad to ad­mit but equally true, is the un­con­trol­lable and ut­terly un­sightly hu­man ex­cre­ment and all sorts of lit­ter that lit­er­ally lies all over the place. Sur­pris­ingly no­body seems to care or dare raise a fin­ger about this malaise that surely de­grades our en­vi­ron­ment.

For us, Ba­sotho, to re­lieve our­selves in the open pub­lic places, seems to be our ig­no­min­ious pas­time. The stench through­out our ma­jor towns is ap­palling and un­bear­able.

It pol­lutes our wa­ter­ways, the air we breathe and the whole en­vi­ron­ment. When you walk through our ma­jor streets ca­su­ally you have to be very weary lest you ac­ci­den­tally stum­ble into hu­man ex­cre­ment.

Through­out our ma­jor cities, it is a usual oc­cur­rence to wit­ness burst sew­er­age lines flow­ing along our streets and into our homes, of- fices and shops. Equally omi­nous, the ser­vice providers will only show-up to at­tend to the prob­lem lit­er­ally days there­after.

Le­sotho has only one uni­ver­sity of its kind, the Na­tional Uni­ver­sity of Le­sotho (NUL), si­t­u­ated ide­ally in the placid town of Roma, 34 kilo­me­tres out­side Maseru. One would nat­u­rally ex­pect that the roads lead­ing to NUL would be of pris­tine beauty and high stan­dard but lo and be­hold!

Some five kilo­me­tres from NUL, not to say any­thing about the en­tire road, the road is a sham­bles with pot­holes through­out.

The shacks on ei­ther side of the main en­trance to the NUL where in­di­gent Ba­sotho sell their food­stuffs and wares, mush­room in a com­pletely un­con­trol­lable man­ner and again no one cares, not even the elected pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

All these begs ques­tions. Is there noth­ing we can do to stop the rot? Do we have the ca­pac­ity to stop the rot and the de­cay?

For the first ques­tion the an­swers are sim­ple; we are not an un­hy­gienic squalid na­tion and we can cer­tainly do some­thing to stop the de­cay. Thirdly, we do have the ca­pac­ity to stop the rot, both in­sti­tu­tional and oth­er­wise.

For starters, MCC used to have, it they are still there, a mu­nic­i­pal po­lice ser­vice and mu­nic­i­pal by­laws.

All that is needed is to im­pose heavy fines and penal­ties on trans­gres­sors of our mu­nic­i­pal by-laws through the law en­force­ment agency of the MCC that also needs to be ca­pac­i­tated, fur­ther. MCC also needs to erect more fa­cil­i­ties for peo­ple to re­lieve them­selves.

The Min­istry of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment needs to come down hard on lo­cal and ur­ban coun­cils that do not en­force mu­nic­i­pal laws. Fur­ther­more, these in­sti­tu­tions need to be ca­pac­i­tated in line with other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties else­where in other coun­tries of sim­i­lar eco­nomic size such as Botswana and Swazi­land.

The cul­ture of sleep­ing on the job for city and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials has to be stopped. In­deed, the mush­room­ing shacks’ shee­beens (mekh’ukh’u), much as they are a source of liveli­hood for thou­sands of in­di­gent Ba­sotho, ought to be

con­trolled and gov­erned prop­erly. This beau­ti­ful coun­try be­longs to all of us and we have to jeal­ously pro­tect and pre­serve it.

Be­cause this cul­ture of squalor ap­pears to be slowly gnaw­ing into our col­lec­tive conscience and psy­che, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment ought to as­sign a com­mit­tee of min­is­ters to launch a mo­ral re­gen­er­a­tion cam­paign through­out Le­sotho.

This should ide­ally start in Maseru, the other ma­jor ur­ban cen­tres and fi­nally the en­tire coun­try­side.

Gov­ern­ment ought to com­mit a size­able fund­ing to this ex­er­cise and in­deed it has to have a ded­i­cated ver­bal back­ing from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment.

That way by the time this na­tion reaches 50 years of in­de­pen­dence with thou­sands of vis­i­tors and pre­sum­ably, for­eign dig­ni­taries, vis­it­ing our shores, we can proudly take our place among the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity of na­tions, with pride.

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