Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
The Harare City Council is negotiating a deal with a Chinese firm, China Gezhoba Group International Engineering, to replace or upgrade the city’s existing water mains, connections, fittings and other agreed works at a cost of $350 million. Most of the city’s water infrastructure is now very old and needs replacement.
The Chinese firm has offered to secure a loan from China Exim Bank through preferential buyer’s credit or concessional loan and will send its team of engineers and other professionals to conduct feasibility studies for the project at its own cost within 90 days of signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties.
The loan would be serviced through the projected increase in revenue due to reduction of water losses (Non-Revenue Water).
Town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango has since been mandated by council to negotiate agreements with China Gezhouba Group for funding, engineering, procurement and construction of the project.
The project entails the supply, installation and commissioning of replaced or upgraded water mains, house connections and fittings in Dzivaresekwa, Westlea, Kuwadzana, Mufakose, New Marimba, Crowborough, Budiriro, Glen View, Warren Park, Waterfalls, Belvedere, Ridgeview, Workington, Southerton, Mbare, Houghton Park, Prospect, Mabvuku and Tafara.
Acting Harare Water director Engineer Mabhena Moyo told members of the Environmental Management Committee chaired by councillor Kudzai Kadzombe during a recent meeting that the project would reduce physical water losses by 72 million litres per day, thereby increasing supply coverage by 72 000 households.
“The project would reduce non-revenue water by 25 percent, thus increasing revenue by about US$21,6 million per annum, areas that were currently not connected to the reticulation system would have access to clean and safe water and there would be a reduction in water-borne diseases,” read minutes of the meeting.
Harare’s water distribution network comprises of about 5 500 kilometres of pipe network which links the water treatment plants with 15 booster pump stations, 28 reservoir sites and about 200 000 customer connection points.
“Other appurtenances in the infrastructure were valves, pressure reducing valves, bulk meters, consumer connections and meters,” read the minutes.
“Most of the critical components of this network infrastructure were in near state of collapse mainly due to age.
“The Harare Water Department dealt with over 9 000 burst pipes each year because most of the pipework was now over its economic lifespan. Failure of isolation and pressure reducing valves had also increased the frequency of burst water pipes, resulting in water losses and reduced water availability to consumers.”
Eng Moyo told councillors that all bulk water meters were no longer functioning, while over 50 percent of consumer meters were beyond their economic lifespan and could not give accurate readings.
This, he said, was impacting negatively on water distribution management and revenue collection.
Eng Moyo said newly-developed suburbs had no water supplies, posing a serious health hazard.
The committee noted that there was lack of funding for replacement of infrastructure and this resulted in the status quo and associated with high non-revenue water (currently at 60 percent), persistent water and supply disruptions, as well as reduced revenue.