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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Let service providers pay price of negligence

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Under normal circumstances, heads would have rolled after last week’s events in Lilongwe’s Area 18, where sewage from a broken sewer contaminated Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) water supplied to the area in question.

In fact, in a normal society, the affected people would have risen and strung those responsible for the mess from the nearest tree the moment the scandal gained public currency.

But here are a people and nation so used to mediocrity and being taken for a ride that those whose heads should have been put on the chopping board continue to be treated as a potentate, even if their action, or lack of it, has cast Malawi in negative light.

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Come to think of it. Lilongwe is the heart of the country, which is why members of the diplomatic community, key government institutions and private sector engine rooms are based there. And to think that people in the capital can be treated to a cocktail of sewage in this time and era beats common sense.

We are, therefore, disappointed that, instead of owning up to the mess, and committing to compensate the affected people, those responsible ducked and dived during the public hearing instituted by the Malawi Human Rights Commission.

What else, apart from a sense of detachment, can make officials from service providers—LWB, Lilongwe City Council and the Malawi Housing Corporation — to fail to come out clearly on what they intend to do to, at least, ease the pain of those affected by water contamination? The service providers must own up to the same one way or the other.

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Now, since the officials seem to be detached from the reality, we will spell out what needs to be done on the issue. One, those responsible for providing the services must accept that they were negligent.

Secondly, those responsible must account for what happened, in order for the ‘victims’ of their action, or failure to act, to appreciate that the dish of justice has been served.

Lastly, those affected must be compensated, not necessarily to erase the painful memories but to, at least, ease the pain.

We will not call for the resignation of those responsible, for this is common sense.

In the end, measures must be put in place to avoid what happened in Lilongwe.

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