Serious water shortages have resurfaced in Gwanda where the Zimbabwe National Water Authority has reduced water supplies to the local authority because it has not settled a US$5 million debt it accrued between February 2009 and October this year. The development follows a directive issued by the Zinwa board this week that the Umzingwane Catchment office, which is the water authority in Matabeleland South province, recoups the debt immediately.
Zinwa is reported to have introduced a stringent water rationing schedule this week where they are pumping 2 400 cubic metres of water per day over eight hours.
The town’s water consumption per day stands at over 10 000 cubic mitres.
Gwanda town is Matabeleland South’s provincial capital with an estimated population of over 45 000.
Umzingwane Catchment manager Mr Tommy Rosen said yesterday that he had on several occasions engaged authorities in the mining town without success.
“We have been trying to get our money from the council for a long time prompting the board to issue a directive that we need to get that debt cleared immediately.
“We are pumping US$100 000 worth of water to the town monthly and they have managed to pay us US$2 000 over five months,” he said.
“Instead of disconnecting the water supplies completely we have decided to reduce daily water supplies.
“We are only releasing 400 cubic metres of water per hour until they pay up.”
He added that they opted for water rationing after getting assurance from the new council executive that they were willing to come up with a reasonable payment plan.
He said it was difficult for Zinwa to continue pumping free water to the town when they were also faced with capacity problems in terms of procuring chemicals and meeting operational costs.
Gwanda Town Clerk Mr Gilbert Mlilo said in an interview yesterday that they were still engaging Zinwa over the issue.
“We are still negotiating with Zinwa over a payment plan and are hopeful that we will come to a mutual understanding this week.
“The situation has been worsened by the teething challenges we are having in terms of revenue collection, where the residents do not own up to their debts,” he said.
He said that although they had complied with the Government directive to scrap debts owed to them by residents between 2009 and June this year, the residents were yet to develop a culture of paying their bills.
He said they had written off US$3,5 million in July adding that since then the residents were still to pay around US$600 000 in water consumption bills.
Mr Mlilo said they were urging residents to pay up their bills in the town so that the local authority would reduce its debt with Zinwa.