Good Rains only Hope for Residents

BULAWAYO residents have only the next rainy season as their hope for an end to the current water crisis as the completion of the Mtshabezi pipeline and the augmentation of supplies from the Nyamandlovu aquifer will only shelve the increasing of water shedding from the current 72 hours a week.

Speaking during a tour of the Umzingwane Dam and Mtshabezi pipeline on Friday 21 September 2012, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) officials said the completion of the Mtshabezi pipeline, which will provide Bulawayo with an additional 17 000 cubic metres of water per day, would not lead to a reduction in water shedding, but would only ameliorate the current crisis by deferring increasing of water shedding to 96 hours per week or more.

This means that the current water crisis in Bulawayo will only end if the city’s supply dams, Umzingwane, Lower Ncema, Upper Ncema, Inyankuni and Insiza receive significant inflows during the oncoming rainy season. If rainfalls are low, then the water crisis will persist and worsen, necessitating increased water shedding ultimately spelling disaster for the city. This would worsen the plight of residents, who are already reeling from the current 3 days per week water shedding amid complaints that some residential areas are facing water cuts for longer periods than indicated in the water shedding timetable.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) thus believes that there is a need for concerted efforts by Bulawayo residents to use water sparingly to stretch the available supplies until dams receive significant inflows. To facilitate this, there is need for BCC to step up its water conservation campaign so that residents realize that they have a role to play in ensuring that water supplies last.

The association believes a vibrant water conservation awareness campaign is a better option than increasing water shedding as the current water shedding is already drastic and has infringed on the rights of residents to access clean water, posing a health hazard. Also, there is a need for the speedy completion of the Mtshabezi pipeline and resuscitation of boreholes at the Nyamandlovu aquifer to improve the situation.

It is BPRA’s contention that once the current crisis is over, efforts should turn towards the duplication of the Insiza pipeline and the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) to ensure that there is never a repeat of such a crisis. Dillydallying by the government and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) on the implementation of projects to end Bulawayo’s water crisis should end immediately.

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