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Crisis in Bulawayo

by Staff reporter
11 Mar 2019 at 07:02hrs | Views
Bulawayo water woes may worsen following revelations that the city is left with only a week's supply of water treatment chemicals. The city is already on a 48-hour weekly water shedding schedule in all suburbs and at times the period is extended to 72 hours.

The council said it is failing to raise the required foreign currency needed to buy the chemicals.

According to the latest council report, the stock levels of ammonia and chlorine were at a critical level.

"Chlorine is at critical one week's supply. Ammonia is at critically low levels with stocks lasting less than a month but requisitions and orders have been done and stations are awaiting delivery. Aluminium sulphate, HTH stocks are enough for over two months," read the report.

The local authority says it requires US$208 000 every month for water treatment chemicals with aluminium sulphate being the most expensive at US$183 950 each month followed by chlorine which requires US$16 000 monthly. Other chemicals used in water treatment are ammonia, polyelectrolyte, lime and HTH.

Ammonia is used to assist chlorine in the disinfection process of water, while poly-electrolytes are used in the process of coagulation and flocculation which helps clear murky waters. This is not the first time the local authority has faced water chemicals shortage. At one time the council stopped purification of water at its Criterion Water Works due to shortage of water chemicals.

Bulawayo Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube yesterday declined to comment on the matter and referred questions to the Director of Engineering Services, Eng Simela Dube, who asked for emailed questions.  

The local authority last December started implementing a 50 percent debt cancellation policy for those paying their bills in foreign currency and all international organisations operating in the city are now required to pay for services in forex. The council is also selling residentail stands in foreign currency.

These are some of the measures meant to boost the council's foreign currency inflows. Last month, the local authority held an emergency finance review meeting and the Finance Director, Mr Kimpton Ndimande revealed that the local authority's finances were in the red.

Mr Ndimande said despite the 50 percent incentive for foreign currency, the initiative was still not very popular with residents. He said the major challenge council was facing from service providers was that they were now charging in foreign currency while residents were paying using RTGS and bond notes.

"And there are general increases out there, prices have gone up, we need spares for motor vehicles, chemicals for water treatment just about everything we have is from outside the country and everything has gone up. The costs of our inputs have increased. If you look at our roads there is hardly any activity, we can't get tar and other things to work on the roads," said Mr Ndimande.

Source - chronicle

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