About 137 residents of the NAPSA Complex Flats and Nyumba Yanga residential areas in Lusaka have dragged the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) and Lusaka City Council (LCC) to court, seeking damages for pain and suffering after they allegedly consumed contaminated water.
Steady Phiri and 136 others want reimbursement of the medical expenses they incurred during treatment of their illnesses as well as transport costs to and from various medical institutions.
In a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court principal registry, Tuesday, Phiri and others stated that sometime in December 2018, they developed various symptoms with the common ones being vomiting, diarrhoea and fever.
They stated that at the time the symptoms were developing, they were not aware that other members of their community and neighborhood were equally presenting the same indications.
The plaintiffs explained that only when they begun to run into each other at various clinics and hospitals did they realise that the symptoms they were suffering from were also being suffered by other members of the NAPSA Complex and Nyumba Yanga neighbourhoods.
They stated that they were advised by various medical institutions that the symptoms they were presenting were most likely caused by a water borne bacterium present in the water they were consuming.
“Moreover, the plaintiffs further realised that the only thing in common among them was the fact that they lived in proximity to each other and shared a water source being the water provided by LWSC. Upon this realisation, some of the plaintiffs approached LWSC to seek advice and discuss a possible solution to the problems they faced,” read the statement of claim.
The plaintiffs, however, stated that LWSC did not render any assistance to them and continuously denied that its water was the cause of the sicknesses and illnesses being suffered by them.
They added that further, LWSC made no attempt to rectify the problem.
The plaintiffs claimed that LWSC only attempted to investigate the cause of their illnesses after a mass panic that cholera had returned to Lusaka and when the media began to cover their shared illnesses.
They stated that after undertaking their investigations, LWSC discovered that their water source was indeed contaminated by an unknown bacterium.
“LWSC further revealed to the plaintiffs that the contamination was caused when the bacterium entered the utility’s water source from a nearby sewer. LWSC investigations also revealed that the spread of the contamination was exacerbated by the fact that LCC approved a number of car washes in the residential area and refuse/waste was seeping/flowing into LWSC’s water sources,” read the statement of claim further.
The plaintiffs stated that despite undertaking an investigation, LWSC did not formally inform them of the nature and extent of the contamination.
They added that it also did not advise them as to when it was safe to resume use or consumption of the water.
The plaintiffs lamented that as a result, they suffered losses and inconvenience.
They stated that the defendants were negligent as they did not take adequate and proper measures to ensure that the water source was safe from contamination.
The plaintiffs are now claiming damages for pain and suffering, damages for negligence and loss of amenities due to inability to celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays, among other claims.