THE Midlands city of Gweru is moving to rescue Midlands State University students reeling from skyrocketing accommodation costs and growing fears of imminent water borne diseases outbreak in Senga high density suburb.
Gweru Mayor Moses Marecha told a Media Institute of Zimbabwe (MISA) briefing that his council is moving in to assist the students by insisting on a certain number that can be accommodated in a room commensurate with city by-laws in consultation with the college’s authorities.
“As city fathers we do not only value education but also the life of our children hence we have moved in to rescue students who have sought accommodation particularly in Senga high density suburb to stop the overcrowding in the area,” said Marecha.
“Students are crowded in very small rooms as people with rent seeking behaviour have invaded the area and now own the majority of houses”.
This, the mayor said, has placed a “huge strain on the council’s infrastructure” resulting in incessant water and sewer bursts that could pose a health risk to residents and students alike.
“We have engaged the authorities at MSU and, as a collective, we will seek to inspect the conditions in which the students are living.
“We are going to limit the number of students in a room, to two rather than the six we are told are packed like sardines,” Marecha said.
The Gweru mayor said most of the house owners in the area are absentee landlords who have skipped paying their bills to council.
Midlands State University has an enrolment of over 15,000 but does not have accommodation facilities to house its students, leaving the majority at the mercy of, not only rent sharks, but also sexual predators who take advantage of their situation.
Besides living in squalid and overcrowded conditions most are forced to pay as much as $100 per-head-per-month while no less than six are packed in a room.
The local authority’s director of health Christopher Ruwodo said the move taken by the city fathers would rescue students from “uncaring landlords”.
“We cannot watch children being treated like pigs especially when we say they are tomorrow leaders,” said Ruwondo.
“Their level of education needs special attention, a peaceful and healthy environment is vital for their success.