Our cities of squalor
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.