Simply negligence of the highest order! Residents of Mzuzu are making a mockery of one of the most coveted offices in the land as they have almost turned premises housing the Office of the President and Cabinet up North into a makeshift public convenience
The walls of the perimeter fence at the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) building in Mzuzu have become a horrible site as some people have been freely urinating and defecating at the place.
The site, which is about 12 metres from the road that connects the dual carriage and Mzuzu Depot, stinks.
Both men and women, especially vendors, can be spotted urinating on or by the walls.
During our 20-minute observation, we counted eight people urinating on the walls, while many who sensed our presence quickly made a U-turn.
In an interview, Shadreck Mng’amba, a vendor who was seen using the place, said he cannot manage to pay K100 every time he visits a private toilet at the bus depot or main market.
“We do not have a public toilet and even the pay toilets are few. So, for us who cannot manage to pay in order to access a private toilet, we are here behind these walls,” Mng’amba said.
Another vendor who sells phone accessories, Hannock Nyirenda, added that the place is convenient, considering the ‘long distances’ they have to cover to find the toilet.
“It is pathetic because the smell sometimes becomes too much. So, we just persevere because we have no option, otherwise this place is not conducive for both us vendors and civil servants working inside the offices,” John Green, another vendor, said.
One of the guards at the premises, Pilirani Msiska, said they have tried to stop people from urinating at the site but with little success.
“We tried to put up warning posters to threaten them that once found urinating there, they will pay K5, 000 but they removed all the posters and they continue using the place. Look, the urine is destroying the walls for the building,” Msiska said.
Civil servants working inside the building and vendors operating close to the structure said the place becomes uncomfortable especially when it is sunny or it is raining.
Efforts to seek comment of the OPC on the matter proved futile, as officials we were referred did not respond to our calls and messages.
Mzuzu City Council Public Relations Officer Macdonald Gondwe pushed the blame on to the tenants occupying the building.
“They need to safeguard their premises and assist in deterring perpetrators. How can you allow a person urinate on your walls under your watch? This is unacceptable and uncalled for,” Gondwe said.
Environmental health activist Maloto Chimkombero said both vendors and people working in the building risk contracting waterborne diseases such as cholera due to laxity of authorities.
“We are already struggling with a cholera outbreak in some parts of this country because of such behaviours, among others,” Chimkombero said.
The OPC building in Mzuzu accommodates employees from the ministries of Trade, Labour, Education, Gender and Social Welfare and other departments such as the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) and National Registration Bureau (NRB).