Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
TINY as they are, mosquitoes are reportedly wreaking havoc and scaring away tourists in Victoria Falls, the country’s prime tourism destination.
The insects are a problem at this time of the year and have infested the resort town especially hotels and lodges with clients reportedly raising alarm to operators and authorities to take action.
In response to complaints by the public and tour operators, the local authority says it would fast-track its spraying programme — due to start on Monday next week.
The resort town has also approached its counterparts in Livingstone and Kasane in Zambia and Botswana respectively to harmonise the spraying programme since they are also affected.
This came out at a budget consultative meeting on Monday evening when residents from wards one, two and three, which are all in the low density areas, met to give their ‘wish list’ to council as the local authority consults towards the crafting of the 2017 budget.
Said a resident from Ward 1: “We’ve a challenge with mosquitoes. Clients in hotels are complaining about these mosquitoes.
“The council should budget for spraying of mosquitoes. Firstly, you should make an environment assessment because last year you sprayed but mosquitoes became too many and up to now the situation has not improved. Maybe the chemical you used killed spiders that feed on mosquitoes.”
Participants at the meeting, most of them hotel and tour operator managers concurred that there “were too many mosquitoes in town.”
Last year residents complained to the local authority that Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) the chemical used to spray mosquitoes during the town’s indoor residual spraying (IRS) programme was ineffective.
They alleged that mosquitoes invaded their houses soon after spraying and some households refused to have their houses sprayed. Council’s Housing and Community Services director Mr Lot Siatimbula confirmed receiving reports about the high presence of mosquitoes.
“My office has been inundated with phone calls about mosquitoes. We have been using DDT and people objected and now we’ve changed to an organophosphate chemical as we’re going to start on September 26,” said Mr Siatimbula.
“We’ve checked with Zambia and Kasane so that we spray at the same time because mosquitoes can travel up to 6km hence we have to harmonise our efforts.
“Last year we were doing indoor residual spraying and we’re changing to a three-tier system, which is indoor using an organophosphate chemical as well as fogging on outdoor areas and spraying all breeding areas such as ponds and pools.”
He said last year the council sprayed 65 percent of properties while 30 percent remained breeding places.
“We believe these initiatives will make an impact even though we wouldn’t be 100 percent effective because when we spray water bodies we cannot spray Zambezi River,” said Mr Siatimbula as he warned that the programme will have a bearing on tariffs.
He said officials from the Ministry of Health and Child Care visited hotels last week to assess the situation.
Mrs Yvonne Yandles, chairperson of Business Against Crime Forum of Zimbabwe (BAFCOZ), however, expressed concern that the ministry was asking for contributions yet spraying of mosquitoes in urban areas is a preserve of local authorities.
She asked why the Government concentrates on rural areas. Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said the local authority would not comment on Government plans.
Source: Vic Falls mosquito menace hits tourism (21/09/16)