Bulawayo water crisis worsens as another dam is decomissioned

By Bayethe Zitha
BULAWAYO - The water crisis currently dogging Zimbabwe's second biggest city of Bulawayo is set to worsen within the next two weeks, as the city council has announced that it will decomission one of the city's two remaining supply dams.

The Bulawayo City Council has already decommissioned three of the city’s five supply dams namely Lower Ncema, Upper Ncema and Umzingwane, which dried up between late last year and early this year.

Council spokesman, Phathisa Nyathi, on Tuesday told The Zimbabwean that Inyankuni dam will be decomissioned at the end of November, if no significant inflows are experienced within the next two weeks.

“The dam is less than seven per cent full and that leaves us in a very precarious position. We however, hope that there will be some inflows in the next couple of weeks so that the water level rises, wince we are now into the rain season. If no inflows are experienced, then we will be left with no choice,” said Nyathi.

In the event that Inyankuni is decomissioned, the city will remain with only one supply dam, Insiza and that will mean that the already suffering residents will have even more stringent measures of water rationing to contend with.

“We are already working out an even more stringent rationing exercise in preparation for the looming problem so that we preserve the remaining water. The problem is that no one seems to be concerned about our situation and the city council has been left to fight its battles alone,” said Nyathi, apparently referring to the government’s failure to intervene in a meaningful way.

Bulawayo’s supply dams, which are all located in the drought-prone Matabeleland South province, quickly dry up due to very low rainfall paterns, resulting in the local authority’s introduction of stringent water rationing exercise.

Currently, lucky residents are getting tape water twice a week, while there are some that have gone for close to three months without running water.

Most residents, like those in Pumula, who do not have boreholes in their suburbs, have been forced to resort to unprotected water sources for survival, while they use the bush to relieve themselves.

The city council had to intervene to stop some of these residents from digging unauthorised pit latrines in the bush.

According to Nyathi, the city has already recorded more than 3 600 cases of diarrhoea, which has been attributed to their use of contaminated water.

The government-run Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), which is fighting to take over the city’s water reticulation exercise, has also failed to help the situation.

Zinwa has failed to resuscitate boreholes at the Nyamandlovu acquifer, in what inside sources attribute to lack of adequate resources.

The body has also failed to link the city with the Mtshabezi dam, choosing to try and recycle water from the highly-polluted Khami dam for the city’s use.

However, that proposal was quickly shot down by a combined efforts from the city council, residents and ruling ZANU (PF) party politicians.



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