‘Reconnect water supply’ – Harare residents urged

Harare residents have been urged to reconnect water supply if the city authorities disconnects them over bill arrears.

This was said by Harare Residents’ Trust coordinator Precious Shumba, during a panel discussion that revealed how some families had now resorted to drawing water from the heavily-polluted Mukuvisi River.

Speaking on SW Radio Africa’s Big Picture programme onThursday, Shumba said no family should go a day longer without the precious liquid because of council disconnections.

“As the HRT we do not wish to engage the city of Harare over the matter, our position is very clear that water should not be disconnected as a measure to coerce residents to settle rates other than for water consumption,” Shumba said.

He explained that currently, the billing system is such that charges are composite and not split, meaning that “if someone pays money it’s not specifically indicated that they are paying for water so the city can’t do that.”

Shumba added: “We are urging residents whose water has been disconnected to reconnect, and ensure that they get access to water until such a time that the council has made a resolution on how to deal with defaulting residents.”

“The city managers cannot come up with decisions that only ensure that they get huge salaries rather than ensuring that a basic human right (access to water) is respected,” the HRT coordinator said.

Shumba’s comments followed revelations by SW Radio Africa correspondent, Simon Muchemwa, that many Harare residents in the western suburbs had been forced to draw water from the Mukuvisi River, which runs through the capital.

Muchemwa described a river heaving with all kinds of pollutants, including sewer and industrial waste dumped into the river by irresponsible firms, including fertiliser manufacturer Zimphos. He said that in the Granite site area, the water is oily and in other parts is full of dirty foam.

“At another spot along the Mukuvisi, scores of residents from the city’s most populous suburb Mbare can be seen doing their laundry using the water from the same river. The water looks clean, with most of the dirt having been trapped by the reeds.

“On one side of the stream is Magaba Home industry where an assortment of waste is let into the stream with little supervision,” said Muchemwa, who toured the riverside last week.

Some of the residents who spoke to Muchemwa said they now relied on the Mukuvisi water for almost all household uses including bathing, laundry, flushing toilets, and in Mbare Musika, for cooking.

Juliet, from Masasa Park, said since 2009 residents in her suburb received running water just once a week and so for her the Mukuvisi River had become the main source of water – never mind the pollution.

Another resident, Elton, told Muchemwa that he and his friends used the raw Mukuvisi water to ‘clean’ plastic containers which are then used to bottle cool drinks and water sold to soccer lovers during football matches, and also “to school-children”.

Muchemwa said it was ironical that the heavily-toxic Mukuvisi had become a life-sustaining source for the desperate residents of the capital city. – SW Radio Africa

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