Councils must emulate Bulawayo

HARARE - Reports that the City of Bulawayo had lifted restrictions on water supplies must have come as a relief for residents of Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

The Friday edition of our sister paper, the Daily News, carried this story, indicating that water levels in dams which supply Bulawayo improved significantly following months of heavy rainfall with Insiza Mayfair reaching 101,15 percent full, Inyankuni (59,68 percent), Lower Ncema (100 percent), Umzingwane (74,42 percent), Upper Ncema (100 percent) and Mtshabezi 104,04 percent.

What makes it even more pleasant, according to Bulawayo authorities, is that water supply for the City of Kings is expected to last an average of 49,3 months, taking into consideration the current consumption patterns, minimal population growth and new connections from future housing projections.

Historically, Bulawayo has been experiencing dire shortages of water at one time leading politicians from that region to mull drawing water from the Zambezi River. This culminated in the establishment of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) then fronted by current Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa. An ambitious project being undertaken in the arid Matabeleland North Province of Zimbabwe, the 400-kilometre water pipeline was touted as the long-term solution to the southern region’s water woes.

The importance of the project was underlined when the Government of National Unity in 2012 presided over the signing of a contract between the government of Zimbabwe and a Chinese Import and Export Bank, which had pledged to support the project with a loan to the tune of $1,2 billion. However, this has not happened as the Chinese financiers pulled out of the project arguing Zimbabwe was a high investment risk.

Perhaps other local authorities like Harare and Chitungwiza among others should emulate the Bulawayo example. It remains a fact that the country received above normal rains and some of our dams actually overflowed.

Sadly, some local authorities like Chitungwiza — Zimbabwe’s third largest town by population — is still rationing water despite dams in its catchment area having overflowed.

This is happening against a background of a cholera outbreak that claimed two lives in Harare’s Hatcliffe suburb recently.

Surely, there is no reason why Chitungwiza and like-minded local authorities have retained tight water supply patterns introduced after the El-Nino weather pattern brought drought conditions to much of southern Africa.

Of course, residents must continue to be encouraged to use water sparingly while uninterrupted supplies are guaranteed.

That way, local authorities are able to ward off diseases that thrive in conditions where there is no continuous supply of potable water.

Comments (1)

Could the water authorities ascertain the actual water levels in dams before making reckless statement alluding to uninterrupted supply for the next 49 months. When were those dams last scooped (silt/mud) otherwise level readings are incorrect. Do the authorities have the capacity and capability. In the past they have assured water supply for 24 months only for levels to become critically low 3 months after their ascertion.

Sinyo - 10 April 2017

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