Water woes dumpen celebrations

HARARE - Residents turned Harare into a party zone on New Year’s Eve as they celebrated the transition into 2013.

But, no sooner had the fireworks died down did they realise nothing has really changed on the ground.

Waking up to reality, Harare residents found taps dry, uncollected garbage littering the streets and the threat of cholera and typhoid outbreak very much alive.

Many had hoped that city fathers would pull up their socks in 2013, but early signs are far from promising particularly on the water front.

Already, the town clerk is contradicting his boss, the mayor regarding the water situation.

While Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda has said the city needs to increase its pumping capacity to 1 200 mega litres a day to meet demand, Town clerk Tendai Mahachi thinks otherwise.

According to Mahachi, the 2012 pumping levels are good enough for Harare’s 4 million residents — never mind that the majority of those who go for days without running water.

Despite Harare’s water woes which led to the death of over 4 000 people in 2008 after a cholera outbreak, Mahachi claims the 620 mega litres currently being produced are enough for consumers.

He said this after touring a South African municipality, Ethikwini in Durban, which has a population of 4, 2 million and a bigger industry.

“Comparing to Ethekwini (Durban), what we are producing should be enough,” Mahachi said.

Mahachi said leakages caused by high water pressure were the major hindrance to free flowing water supplies.

“The pressure of water when leaving Morton Jeffrey waterworks is eight bars which is too much for our obsolete pipes.

“Presently more water is being lost than used. Once we have installed the pressure reduction valves, water shortages will be a thing of the past,” said Mahachi.

But his explanation was rebuffed by Highlands councillor Peter Mudavanhu, who described it as “meaningless” as most residents are currently receiving low pressured water supply.

Mahachi told councillors he was now planning to acquire equipment to reduce pressure which is expected to cost not less than $2 million.

“We are working on reducing it to four bars and we will stabilise the situation,” he said.

Most residents in the capital city depend on borehole water as well as open sources such as shallow wells as their local authority seems to be clueless on how to solve the perennial water woes.

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