Gwanda forced to introduce water rationing over $4m debt

An estimated $4 million debt owed to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has forced the Gwanda Town Municipality to introduce a water rationing regime which is crippling business across the Matabeleland South capital.

Sources told SW Radio Africa that the water authority is vowing that it will continue to turn off the taps until a part of the debt is settled. This has in turn forced the council to introduce town wide water rationing.

A council statement said water will be cut off daily between 4 pm and 8 am, starting last Thursday.

A news report on the Bulawayo24 website Monday said this development comes at a time when the Gwanda council has ‘recently approved and adopted a resolution by the previous council to take over the water treatment from ZINWA’.

Gwanda council has for a long time been complaining about the tariffs charged by ZINWA. In April ZINWA was forced to reduce water charges from $1.06 to 70 cents per cubic meter following the intervention of the then water minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo.

Albert Ncube, a freelance journalist based in Gwanda, told SW Radio Africa on Monday that the stand-off between ZINWA and the council had resurfaced with the council debt estimated to be ‘above $4 million’.

Ncube said the situation is made worse by the fact that many residents have not been paying their bills since local government minister Ignatius Chombo issued an order for the cancellation of residents’ debts prior to the July 31st election.

According to Ncube the residents have since then adopted a wait and see attitude, calculating that another order will be issued.

Only last week the council embarked on a campaign to persuade people to settle their bills.

As the stand-off between the council and ZINWA continues business has borne the brunt with areas such as Jacaranda, Chiskop and Ultra High being the most affected, forcing the council to supply water through bowsers.

Businessman Bekezela Fuzwayo Maduma told SW Radio Africa that business was ‘heavily affected across all sectors’ and the community feared an outbreak of diseases. – SW Radio Africa

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