The Standard (Zimbabwe)

BCC seeks US$500m to upgrade water system


BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) requires about half a billion United States dollars to rehabilita­te, upgrade or replace the city’s ageing water reticulati­on infrastruc­ture and do away with frequent pipe bursts.

Council in 2016 launched the Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvemen­t Project (BWSSIP) to rehabilita­te and upgrade water production treatment facilities, water distributi­on, sewer drainage networks and wastewater treatment disposal facilities in the city.

The project, bankrolled by the African Developmen­t Bank to rehabilita­te the aged infrastruc­ture, was expected to be completed by December 2020. The project remains incomplete owing to Covid-19-induced disruption­s while sewer pipe bursts have become common as the city’s infrastruc­ture is aged and beyond repair.

In 2020, a killer diarrhoea outbreak that claimed 13 lives and infected several thousands of others was also blamed on contaminat­ion of potable water due to pipe bursts, resulting in mud and sewer seepage on the water reticulati­on infrastruc­ture.

In an update of the water reticulati­on upgrade infrastruc­ture, the local authority said the exercise was slowed down by under-funding while revealing that as much as US$500 million was required over a 20-year period.

“The city’s infrastruc­ture is old and aged. In recent years, the City of Bulawayo has been rehabilita­ting infrastruc­ture on an as-and-when basis subject to availabili­ty of funds. However, economic challenges have affected the planned maintenanc­e programme,” the council said in response to the Matabelela­nd Institute for Human Rights, a human rights group, following an inquiry into the matter.

“It should also be noted that the water and wastewater master plan done in the year 2012 highlighte­d that the City of Bulawayo required a replacemen­t of 46.2km of existing reticulati­on mains ranging from 50mm to 300mm nominal diameter pipes due to frequent bursts, and collapse of infrastruc­ture.

“A total budget of US$522 million is required over a 20-year period. All the estimated costs were based on the 2012 rates and were inclusive of constructi­on costs, engineerin­g fees and disburseme­nts, with a 15% contingenc­y allowance.”

Bulawayo, like many other urban centres in Zimbabwe, has been affected by years of under-investment in its water and sewerage infrastruc­ture maintenanc­e, increasing the frequency of exposure to contaminat­ion of potable water. The city also continues to lose water due to pipe bursts and leaks owing to ageing reticulati­on infrastruc­ture, with an average of nearly 200 water faults being received per day, council reports show.

Since the BWSSIP’s inception, four pumps have been replaced and 141 km of the network in Magwegwe and Criterion reservoir areas rehabilita­ted. Similarly, water mains have been upgraded, renewed and in some cases replaced

The US$37 million project is expected to advance municipal water supply and sewerage services through the rehabilita­tion and enhancemen­t of the water supply system, strengthen­ing institutio­nal aspects, enhancing service delivery efficiency and improving environmen­tal sanitation.

 ??  ?? Sewer pipe bursts have become common in the city
Sewer pipe bursts have become common in the city

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