Residents fume as water shedding extends beyond 48 hours
THOUSANDS of Bulawayo residents have been left stranded after council failed to stick to its published 48-hour weekly water shedding schedule.
A majority of suburbs that had water cut on Monday and were supposed to get it back on Wednesday still did not have water yesterday.
Suburbs that include Gwabalanda, Lobengula, Cowdray Park and Emakhandeni were supposed to get water on Friday after it was cut on Wednesday.
Fuming residents told The Chronicle that there was water for a few hours on Friday before it was cut off without warning.
Scores of residents were carrying containers, looking for water from surrounding suburbs.
Unscrupulous people in Entumbane, Gwabalanda and parts of Cowdray Park were yesterday charging residents up to $1 to get water from community boreholes.
An explanation could not be obtained from the Mayor Councillor Martin Moyo or council’s senior public relations officer Mrs Nesisa Mpofu as their mobile phones rang without being answered.
Entumbane councillor Gladys Masuku said they had no water since Monday, although it had come back briefly on Friday.
“I made a call to the city council and they told me that they’re aware of our problem and they’re hoping that by Monday we will be having water. They said Entumbane is located in a steep area and that is the reason we don’t have water,” she said.
Mr Isolethu Baloyi (28) from Cowdray Park said they had no water since Wednesday.
“Our family has 13 members and all of us need to go to the toilet. Truly speaking the city council is supposed to treat us like human beings and stick to the water shedding time table,” said Mr Baloyi.
Ms Silibaziso Mabhena (42) from Gwabalanda said the four days they have spent without water was posing a serious health hazard.
“This situation will cause health problems. We used to collect water from the nearby borehole but it broke down yesterday and for today we don’t know where we will get water,” said Ms Mabhena.
Mr Bukhosi Ncube from Lobengula said New Lobengula, Old Lobengula, Luveve and Emakhandeni are depending on a borehole in Luveve 4 suburb because they are fetching water free of charge.
“People are fighting everyday here because of water. Yesterday someone was rushed to Mpilo hospital after being stabbed by someone fighting for water. The city council must do something,” said Mr Ncube.
Residents said it was difficult to cooperate with council in conserving water because the local authority seemed to be operating in bad faith.
“I got enough water to last me two days. It’s been four days since I last had water. Council is being arrogant because they are not explaining the situation,” said Gogo MaNcube from Gwabalanda.
“When they want to remind us to pay bills, they promptly send us smses. They can use the same platform to tell us about water but they choose to keep quiet. Next time I’ll just get as much water as I can because the schedule is not reliable.”
Last month, residents urged the local authority to tighten water rationing instead of introducing water shedding.
Water shedding is a system of conserving tap water by cutting supplies for a fixed period.
Rationing entails putting a limit on the amount of water that households can use in a day without cutting it off. Those who exceed the limit are penalised. Residents argued that they actually use more water during shedding.
They said they keep plenty of water which they throw away to get fresh water when supplies are restored.
Residents said council loses thousands of litres of purified water through pipe bursts when pressure builds up in pipes when supplies are cut.
The city is facing its worst water crisis in five years. Its six supply dams, Insiza, Mtshabezi, Inyankuni, Umzingwane, Lower and Upper Ncema are at about 30 percent of their collective capacity.
Already, Upper Ncema and Umzingwane dams have been decommissioned and more may follow if there is no substantial rain in their catchment areas in Matabeleland South.
The city faces a water crisis at the end of almost every year and has been under water rationing since 1984.
The permanent solution to water shortages in Bulawayo and Matabeleland is said to be the National Zambezi Water Project that was first tabled in 1912. — @cynthiamthembo1.
Residents queue to fetch water at a borehole in Luveve 4, Bulawayo, yesterday. The borehole also serves five nearby suburbs — (Picture by Eliah Saushoma)