$940m life­line for Harare water

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Nor­man Muchemwa

GOV­ERN­MENT has se­cured fund­ing com­mit­ments worth $940 mil­lion from China to over­haul Harare’s water and sewer sys­tem, which is in a state of dis­re­pair and has been blamed for the cur­rent cholera out­break.

Part of the fund­ing, which also cov­ers tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance, will go to bulk water sup­plies, pu­rifi­ca­tion works, sewer plants and waste water retic­u­la­tion.

Over­all, the over­haul of Harare’s water and sewer sys­tem in­volves re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture; and con­struc­tion of new dams, sewer plants, treat­ment works, stor­age and dis­tri­bu­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

Cholera has killed 28 peo­ple and in­fected 4 600 oth­ers, most of them in Harare, mak­ing the need to in­vest in water sys­tems all the more ur­gent.

Sec­re­tary for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Pub­lic Works and Na­tional Hous­ing Mr Ge­orge Magosvongwe told The Sun­day Mail last week that, “US$600 mil­lion of the fund­ing will go to­wards con­struc­tion of Kun­zvi Dam, treat­ment works, con­veyance sys­tem and stor­age reser­voirs in Harare.

“US$180 mil­lion is for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and up­grad­ing of por­tions of water dis­tri­bu­tion net­work, among other works which in­clude re­place­ment of a 54km trans­mis­sion net­work (pri­mary mains), and re­place­ment of 208km of dis­tri­bu­tion mains (secondary and ter­tiary mains),” said Mr Magosvongwe.

“Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of two dis­tri­bu­tion pump­ing sta­tions and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and in­stal­la­tion of se­cu­rity fa­cil­i­ties at 26 reser­voir sites will also be cov­ered on the US$180 mil­lion.”

The re­main­ing $160 mil­lion, he said, would be used to spruce up the main pump­ing lines from War­ren Hills Con­trol Sta­tion to all reser­voirs.

Zim­babwe had ran into chal­lenges in ac­cess­ing money from China owing to loan ar­rears, but the re­cent el­e­va­tion of diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween Harare and Bei­jing from a “Friendly Part­ner­ship” to a “Com­pre­hen­sive Strate­gic Part­ner­ship” af­ter Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa’s State Visit in April un­locked fund­ing for key projects.

While Gov­ern­ment had pre­vi­ously se­cured a $144 mil­lion fa­cil­ity through which China Na­tional Ma­chin­ery and Equip­ment Im­port and Ex­port Cor­po­ra­tion (Camec) was sup­posed to re­fur­bish water and sewer treat­ment plants, bungling by the Harare City Coun­cil de­railed the project.

Camec be­gan work in 2010 and was sup­posed to have been com­pleted in 2014, but the project stalled amid al­le­ga­tions of mis­man­age­ment and abuse of funds. Rein­vent­ing cities Ex­perts say most ex­ist­ing water in­fra­struc­ture is old and in­ca­pable of sup­port­ing the cap­i­tal city’s ever-bur­geon­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Harare’s old­est sub­urb, Mbare, for example, was es­tab­lished 111 years ago, while High­field, the sec­ond-old­est, came into be­ing 88 yearsago.

The over­haul of the cap­i­tal’s water and sewer sys­tem is part of a grand mas­ter­plan to mod­ernise stan­dards of liv­ing.

Mr Magosvongwe said Gov­ern­ment had lined up mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ments over the next five years.

Com­mand Hous­ing, he pointed out, would be an as­pect of the mod­erni­sa­tion drive, with Mbare be­ing one of the first ports of call for the re­gen­er­a­tion project that is be­ing un­der­taken via the In­fra­struc­ture Devel­op­ment Bank of Zim­babwe and the Ur­ban Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion.

Mr Magosvongwe said: “It’s not just Mbare; we have Makokoba, we have Dulibadz­imu, we have Kariba, Mutare and many other di­lap­i­dated flats around the coun­try.

“The Com­mand Hous­ing pro­grame will def­i­nitely start in Mbare ... We will sub­sti­tute the cur­rent dwellings with new build­ings with bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties and ameni­ties for the ben­e­fit of those cur­rently oc­cu­py­ing the di­lap­i­dated struc­tures.

“We want to cre­ate a Mbare where you can get ev­ery fa­cil­ity there — churches, clin­ics and recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties.”

Ud­corp will play a lead role in reg­u­lar­is­ing un­planned set­tle­ments.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ment will be re­vi­talised through mod­ernising and har­mon­is­ing sys­tems within lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

The re­vamp in­cludes ser­vice level bench­mark­ing, pro­gramme-based bud­get­ing and up to date coun­cil au­dits.

The con­sti­tu­tional im­per­a­tive of de­vo­lu­tion, Mr Magosvongwe added, was at the cen­tre of the mas­ter­plan.

“We are also hav­ing prepa­ra­tions for de­vo­lu­tion just as the Pres­i­dent an­nounced.

‘‘The Con­sti­tu­tion is very clear that de­vo­lu­tion can only be done where coun­cil is ready.

‘‘We can­not send a ba­sic ser­vice to a coun­cil that is not ready to de­liver.”

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