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Bulawayo's 120-hour water shedding to continue

by Staff reporter
13 Mar 2024 at 05:07hrs | Views
BULAWAYO residents will continue receiving water for only two days per week, as water levels continue to dwindle at major supply dams due to drought, with the possibility of further tightening of the water shedding regime if the situation has not improved.

Bulawayo director of engineering services, Engineer Sikhumbuzo Ncube, said this yesterday during a tour of some of the city's water projects by Netherlands Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Margret Verwijk, who commended the city for effectively using resources injected by her country.

Ambassador Verwijk visited several projects including the city's Revenue Hall and four water kiosks that were installed around the city to improve access to water.

The four water kiosks are located in Magwegwe (two), Cowdray Park, and Nkulumane. Eng Ncube said the water kiosks were the brainchild of the late city's director of engineering services, Simela Dube, who came up with the idea to service high-lying areas that do not receive water during water-shedding periods.

The city is experiencing a 120-hour water-shedding  period as the local authority seeks to conserve water as the dam water levels remain critically low.

"We all appreciate that the water situation remains critical. Our water levels in the city dams are at 41 percent yet we are approaching the end of the rainy season.

"This means we are going to sustain the 120-hour weekly water shedding period for a prolonged period maybe up to December," said Eng Ncube.

"By June we might even need to review the water shedding programme depending on the water situation in our dams. We might need to increase to a 140 hour-weekly water shedding period.

"At the moment we will try to maintain the 120 weekly water shedding, meaning residents will continue to receive water twice a week," he added.

Eng Ncube said in light of the water crisis facing the city, residents should conserve water and report those wasting water. The country is experiencing an El Nino induced drought characterised by low rainfalls and the city's supply dams did not receive much inflows.

Eng Ncube said  residents should protect water kiosks and community boreholes as they are meant to lessen the water crisis.

Speaking during the tour, Amb Verwijk said the changes in the weather patterns were not just affecting agriculture but daily lives with cities such as Bulawayo feeling the brunt of the adverse weather conditions.

She said the Netherlands has a lot of expertise in water resource management and it was encouraging to see communities being involved in protecting water infrastructure in Bulawayo. Communities are in charge of the water kiosks and bear the costs of repairing any infrastructure that is damaged.

Amb Verwijk said visiting projects on the ground was important as it gives her time to assess the effectiveness of projects as opposed to just receiving reports.

"I'm coming from a country, which is very small. It fits into Mashonaland West, it is very tiny but water and water management is something that we have mastered very well," she said.

"Some of the land we gained from the sea, we didn't occupy anyone's land, we took it from the sea. Water management and protecting ourselves from the sea and utilising all the rivers in the Netherlands for the purposes of production agriculture, household water consumption is something that we are specialised in.

"So, it is very nice to see that Dutch water utilities and water operations are supporting your community in accessing potable and clean water. It is important, water is life," said Ambassador Verwijk.

Amb Verwijk said her country has been supporting water management in Bulawayo, Mutare and Harare, with the aim of providing safe drinking water to communities.

"We are working in Bulawayo but also in Mutare and after this visit I will be visiting Mutare and other urban areas like Harare are also being served and especially in terms of access to potable water and to some extent access to sewage and sanitation because both of them are very important to keep Zimbabweans healthy and improve their lives," she said.

"The government of the Netherlands is providing the finances, but it's the people behind you who are doing the actual work together with the water department."

Amb Verwijk said while her Government can provide technical support to the city, residents have a duty to pay bills as service delivery comes at a cost.

"It's very important that people pay their bills. Water is not for free, clean potable water is very valuable and it was good to see that people start to understand that, so that the revenues are actually realised," said Amb Verwijk.

Source - The Chronicle