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Riots erupt in Zambia slums over street vending ban amid cholera crisis

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Some residents in a slum in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, are violently protesting over a regulation imposed to control the spread of a cholera epidemic.

The epidemic which started since October 2017 is spreading at an alarming rate forcing the government to ban street vending in order to contain the situation.

A local media portal, Mwebantu, shared photos of burning trucks and fires set in the middle of streets in some parts of the capital. They report that police were forced to discharge tear gas quell the riot.

Local Government and Housing Minister Vincent Mwale, whose ministry jointly imposed the ban with the health ministry, told Reuters police had been sent to Kanyama township stop the riots.

About a week ago, a number of churches announced cancellation of all services especially in Lusaka. The Reformed Church in Zambia and the Bread of Life Church International were two of such churches.

The education sector was the first to be hit as the 2018 school calendar was postponed indefinitely in order to curtail the incidence of the disease spreading.

According to a joint statement issued last week by Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya and his education counterpart Dennis Wanchinga, the re-opening of schools countrywide has been deferred until further notice.

“We have had an outbreak of cholera from October 6, 2017 and it has affected mainly Lusaka Province and we have recorded sporadic cases in various parts of the country,” Dr Chilufya said.

President Edgar Lungu had tasked the army to move in to help arrest the situation. He said the Zambia Defence Forces were to work with relevant ministries and agencies in the cholera combat. The spread has since been steadily rising.

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