Rudo Muchedzi and Blessings Chidakwa
Massive water shortages have hit Harare due to shortages of water treatment chemicals, with the local authority presently pumping about 160 megalitres daily against a demand of 1 200 megalitres.
Residents are going without water for days, with reports indicating that some areas have not had running water in the last three weeks.
A fact-finding visit to Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant yesterday by the Parliamentary Joint Thematic Committee on Human Rights, Sustainable Development Goals and Gender and Development, revealed that Harare City Council was faced with a serious shortage of critical chemicals for water purification.
This comes as council is yet to start drawing water from Lake Manyame, despite getting US$9,3 million from Government three months ago.
Migrating from Lake Chivero to Manyame will reduce the number of chemicals used to treat water from nine to three, which will make it cost effective.
It emerged that council was still using the 2018 budget drafted in 2017 pending approval of the 2019 and the 2020 Budget by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
Council acting director of water works Engineer Mabhena Moyo said water supply had gone down from about 400 megalitres produced last year to about 160 megalitres per day.
“We are having a challenge with securing enough chemicals to treat water and it is hampering water supply,” he said.
“The plant has a capacity of about 704 megalitres against 1 200 (megalitres) needed per day and out of that we are only pumping an average of 160 megalitres per day.
“We import chemicals from various suppliers and sometimes we end up incurring debts. Low water tariffs are also hindering the water supply considering that about $40 million is required to purchase chemicals against a monthly collection of about $20 million.”
Committee chairperson Chief Bungu Chikwaka from Goromonzi said they were on a fact-finding mission to establish the challenges faced by the City of Harare.
“We want to find out the challenges faced here and see how the problem of water can be solved because water is a human right and it’s among the SDGs,” he said.
The rehabilitation of some sections of the Morton Jaffray Water Works, including clarifiers and filters, is progressing well after Government injected $37,4 million last year to improve water access and waste water treatment in Harare.
The funds from Government were earmarked for the completion of Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant, overhaul of the water distribution network, sewer reticulation system upgrade and installation of 8 000 residential prepaid meters.
The plant has three water works stations, the first one was built in 1954, the second in 1972 and the other in 1994.
Chief Chikwaka said: “We are seeing it as progressive although a lot needs to be done to ensure clean water is delivered.
“As you can see, reservoirs are being renovated and we are optimistic that at the end of the day, people will have access to clean water.”
Human Rights portfolio chairperson Cde Sydney Sekeremayi said clean water played a crucial role in the development of societies.
“For any society to develop properly there should be adequate water,” he said.
“From a human rights perspective, clean water is a human right, but there is a challenge of insufficient water supply due to drought.
“If the raw water is not sufficient, nothing can be done and we are hoping that the current water supply will be maximised.
“We also hope that Lake Kunzvi will eventually reinforce the water situation when it is constructed.”