Res­i­dents fume as water shed­ding ex­tends beyond 48 hours

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Cyn­thia Dube

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)

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