It’s Tuesday but the fire that started on Sunday at the Pomona dumpsite still burns, despite several attempts by the City of Harare Fire Department and the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe to put it out.
Smoke from the fire spread to nearby residential areas including Vainona and Mt Pleasant.
This is just one of many such incidents that have happened at the site over the years but it is by far the worst, as chronicled by people who live in the catchment area.
Charlene Hewat, CEO of Environment Africa said: “This has to be the worst fire I have ever seen at the dumpsite, and I believe that only the rains will put this out as it is huge. What a disaster.”
Her colleague Veronica Chapman says fire used to break out “at least once a year but for the last couple of years there hadn’t been an incident and I think that’s why this one is so intense.”
Chapman raised concerns over the injection of possible toxic smoke in the air, which may cause damage to both human beings in surrounding areas and their environment.
“It is unfortunate that the fire broke when it was windy so the smoke was carried a very long distance affecting a wider area but mostly affecting those closest to the dumpsite,” she said.
Speaking on Sunday, one resident from Mount Pleasant said: “The sky clears and it seems to have gone. Then the wind changes, the smell re-appears, and we get the ‘fog’ again.”
No explanation has yet been given on what might have caused the fire but there is speculation that a mentally challenged vagrant who lives at the site may have lit up the waste. Another possibility is that the high temperatures Harare has been experiencing set it off.
Efforts to get comments from the City of Harare and the Fire Department have so far been fruitless.
The Pomona dumpsite is a square km of land that was dedicated by the City of Harare for waste disposal.
Environmentalists have always advocated for its closure, pointing out that it is located on a wetland and on the leeward side of residential areas.
In other world cities, waste management has evolved from dumpsites to landfills.