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Bulawayo City Council moots 5 days water shedding schedule?

by Staff reporter
07 Dec 2023 at 05:28hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is planning to introduce a new water-shedding schedule, which will see residents going for 120 hours without water with Government yesterday assuring residents that it is expediting the completion of the Lake Gwayi-

Shangani project to permanently address the prevailing water crisis.

While the completion of the Lake Gwayi-Shangani is expected to bring a lasting solution to Bulawayo's water woes, the Government has also been pumping resources to rehabilitate boreholes at the Nyamandlovu Aquifer to augment bulk water supplies from dams, which continue to receive inadequate inflows due to adverse climate change effects.

Addressing a Zanu-PF rally at Mhali Primary School in New Magwegwe suburb in Bulawayo yesterday, Vice-President Kembo Mohadi said the Government is seized with the completion of the dam's construction, which will also boost the city's economic growth.

Water shortages have negatively affected the performance of industries and resulted in the relocation of some companies.

"The distribution of water in Bulawayo is done by the city council. As Central Government, through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, we only supply the local authority with bulk water and the distribution part is handled by council," he said.

"While the opposition-run BCC is failing to provide residents with enough water, Government has moved in to address the water crisis. We are aware of the water challenges in Bulawayo, we decided to expedite the construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani, and we have since started laying the pipeline to supply water from the dam to the city.

"Once we have addressed the water challenges in Bulawayo, we will be able to re-industrialise the city and more factories will open."

VP Mohadi said while the Lake Gwayi-Shangani project was first mooted in 1912, it failed to take off under previous successive administrations.

It is only after the coming in of the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa that the project received significant fiscal support and took off at an accelerated pace.

"The problem of water is going to be solved by the Government once and for all. We are a Government that listens to the people. This project was first mooted in 1912, we had successive governments led by Sir Roland Welensky, Garfield Todd, and Ian Smith including the First Republic failing to implement it until the coming in of the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa," said VP Mohadi.

Lake Gwayi-Shangani, with a holding capacity of 650 million cubic metres of water, and pipeline project are major components of the National Matebeleland Zambezi Water Project.

Speaking during the 2024 council budget media briefing yesterday, Bulawayo's director of water and engineering services Engineer Sikhumbuzo Ncube said the city's supply dams are depleted with the water supply expected to last for 12 months due to the looming El Nino-induced drought.

Eng Ncube said since Bulawayo was the most affected province during the 1992 drought, residents should brace up for the worst given the prevailing circumstances.

"Those who have plenty are the ones who can afford to go into panic, but as Bulawayo, we have always been in a water crisis so these reports on El Nino simply mean that the worst is coming our way," he said.

"Not to paint a gloomy picture, but the El Nino means drought this coming year, our dam levels are at 44 percent and we have already decommissioned Umzingwane Dam. From years past we know that whenever this announcement is made it means stringent measures must be taken."

Eng Ncube said the tightening of the water shedding regime is inevitable and it will be discussed during council meetings as part of strategies to ensure Bulawayo survives El Nino.

"We usually receive rains from December up to March and with the looming El Nino, it means there are uncertainties and our dams might not receive enough rain to last us a year. We need to prepare, the first strategy being the tightening water shedding which is currently at 72 hours, but we may review and go to 96 or even up to 120 which will be a tighter programme, meaning we will only have water for two days per week," he said.

"We have 33 water kiosks and we are disinfecting and dedicating water bowsers to follow up and complement the system since we know there are some areas whose water supply is not restored according to schedule."

Eng Sibanda said they are also engaging the donor communities to help refurbish 419 boreholes dotted around the city as a back-up plan.

He said the other short-term plan is for the local authority to be able to pump at least 20 mega litres from the Nyamandlovu Aquifers as Bulawayo is only receiving 7 mega litres daily.

"We improve the delivery of water from Nyamandlovu, which is currently giving us 7ML per day, it should give us 20ML. However, due to our engagements, five of those megalitres go to farmers," said Eng Ncube.

"If we get 15ML pumped into the Magwegwe reservoir daily, it means 35 percent of Bulawayo residents will then have access to water and it will stabilise our system."

Eng Ncube said the local authority is also considering introducing a backup power system to ensure that the water-shedding programme is effective and sustainable.

He said the Lake Gwayi- Shangani project is also a long-term strategy. Apart from the Epping Forest and Nyamandlovu Aquifer, Bulawayo receives its water from Mtshabezi, Upper Ncema, Lower Ncema, Insiza and Mzingwane dams, but some of these dams have received insignificant inflows in the past rainy seasons due to climate change-induced drought.

The acting city health director Mr Nkanyiso Ndlovu urged residents to adhere to hygienic standards to avert the outbreak of cholera, a water-borne disease causing havoc in other parts of the country.

"We remain on high alert for cholera and we are happy because despite water challenges we have not yet recorded any case in Bulawayo. Residents should be vigilant and avoid mass gatherings as they put themselves at risk of cholera," he said.

Source - The Chronicle
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