Harare City, French firm in water talks

Nyemudzai Kakore Herald Correspondent
Harare City Council is in talks with a French company, Veolia, which has expressed willingness to invest in the water sector to ease the water crisis being faced by the city.

Officials from the company last week visited Harare on a feasibility study to ascertain the depth of the water woes. By April, the firm would have sent consultants to assess the city’s water projects. Veolia Business Development Africa director Mr Christophe Meiller said after the meeting with Harare mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni, that they had realised the city was having problems of water quality and the disposition of excess water. He said the company would either provide funding or equipment. “We came to understand and to evaluate the water system of Harare City in order to see if we can build up a proposal that could help the city to take care of the problem of water scarcities in subsectors,” said Mr Meiller.

“Our main goal is to provide solutions and improvements in order to build a water plant that will solve the situation, it may involve funding or the purchase of new equipment. It’s our first visit to Zimbabwe, so we have agreed to proceed on technical audits in order to be able to make a proposal in the coming months. At the moment we are only focused on the City of Harare and the key objective is to provide an action plan which will alleviate the water problem.” Mr Meiller said they had worked in 14 African countries which include Morocco, Gabon, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana and Kenya. Cllr Manyenyeni said despite the city having entered into another agreement with China Exim Bank under a $144 million loan facility to rehabilitate Morton Jaffray Water Works, they needed more help.

“This visit is a follow up to the trip I made to France at the invitation of the French ambassador and met a number of companies who are interested in partnering with the city in a number of areas and Veolia is a global giant in infrastructure, in particular waste management and water,” he said.

“They followed up the visit to try and see where we stand in terms of our water challenges. They have expressed willingness to work with us in increasing our volumes, improving quality, decreasing our costs and perfecting our current and future contracts with any other parties.”

The Harare Water department has been failing to cope with water demand over the years mainly because the original infrastructure was designed to serve a population of only 300 000.

The city’s population has since increased to almost 2,5 million without a corresponding expansion of water infrastructure.

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