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Boost for Bulawayo water supplies

by Staff reporter
20 Mar 2022 at 06:27hrs | Views
BULAWAYO City Council will tomorrow sign a major deal with a Dutch company, Vitens Evides International (VEI) to implement key water projects that will ease the city's water woes.

Recently, the acting director of engineering services, Engineer Sikhumbuzo Ncube warned that the local authority will soon be forced to take the route of reintroducing water shedding in the city owing to the prevailing dry spell.

In 2018 council and VEI embarked on a partnership under the umbrella of WaterWorX (WWX) phase one facility which focused on improving operational and financial performance, as well as increasing access to and reliability of water supply to all.

One of the projects embarked on in the facility was the reduction of Non-Revenue Water, by developing a Non-Revenue Water assessment and implementing various reduction activities.

In a statement, BCC's corporate communications officer, Miss Bongiwe Ngwenya said the two partners will tomorrow sign phase two of the project which is set to run until December 2026.

Although she could not reveal the value of the funding, she said the main objective of the programme will be to enable the sustainable provision of water and sanitation services in the city.

"The City of Bulawayo has received additional funding for the Water Worx Water Operator Partnership (WOP) WaterWorX Phase II Programme funded by Vitens Evides International (VEI).

"The project will be implemented from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2026 and programme's main objective is to enable the city to sustainably provide water and sanitation services to all customers at an improved level of service.

"This is expected to be achieved by improving the quality of leadership, human resources productivity, stakeholder relations, strategic business planning, harnessing of investment funding, inclusion of disadvantaged groups in key processes, influencing the enabling environment, protection of water sources, reduction of revenue water loses, enhanced asset management and climate resilience planning," said Miss Ngwenya.

Meanwhile, the local authority has lost one of its senior engineers to the project after she was appointed as the full time project coordinator for the duration of phase two of the facility.

Engineer Kwanele Gugulethu Sibanda, under phase one of the WaterWorx project, had been sponsored to study for a Master of Science Degree in the Netherlands. Under the programme, which she completed in April 2021, she had been expected to be bonded to the local authority for six years four months.

"Our development partners had since expanded their operations in the city and they were desirous to engage Eng Sibanda as a full time project coordinator for the period 2022-2026.

"In the light of the existing development cooperation with WaterWorx, it was proposed that council granted a special waiver to her remaining bonding obligations to facilitate immediate resignation from council services and simultaneous assumption of full time five-year employment with the development partner," reads a council confidential report.

In debating the matter, it was noted that despite her resigning from council services she would continue working for the local authority as the project coordinator for the various projects being implemented under WaterWorx in Bulawayo.

"The Chamber Secretary (Mrs Sikhangele Zhou) advised that council's principle of bonding was underpinned by the condition that if one had been given an opportunity, council would have to benefit from their skills for a certain period of time. However, every policy left room for a waiver under circumstances that were deemed as justifiable.

"Council could not approve the waiver and still confine the engineer to the previous contract, after five years she would not be council's employee anymore and she could not be compelled to compensate council.

"In the circumstances since the new contract was of mutual benefit to council and the employee this was a reasonable circumstance for a waiver on the bonding," reads the council report.

The local authority has over the past few years has bemoaned brain drain, as it has lost a number of engineers seeking greener pastures which has significantly affected the local authority's service delivery endeavours.

Source - The Sunday News