Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
Harare residents are up in arms with council after it increased water cuts in their suburbs, saying the move exposed them to water-borne diseases like cholera. Harare City Council has, without notice, been disconnecting water supplies to suburbs like Sunridge, Marlborough and Goodhope.
Some residents in Budiriro rely on wells as council is yet to provide piped water. They are however, still made to pay a fixed water charge by council.
The failure by council to supply water in many suburbs has forced residents to resort to unsafe sources like wells at a time when Harare is battling a cholera outbreak.
Harare Residents’ Trust director Mr Precious Shumba told The Herald yesterday that it was disheartening that council was failing to supply all its residents with water at such a critical time.
“There are water shortages across the suburbs,” he said.
“The City of Harare is only able to supply about 45 percent of the total households connected to their water distribution network.
“They say they have an estimated 230 000 households connected to their water system, and they are only supplying water to around 103 500 households, and they need to improve on the quantity of water reaching consumers.”
Mr Shumba suggested that council must consider providing bowsers where it fails to supply piped water.
“Where they are not providing water, the HRT recommends that the City of Harare provides water bowsers in order to minimise the risk of further spreading the risk of contracting water borne diseases,” he said.
“Looking at Section 77 of our Constitution, every citizen has a right to access water, and the State has an obligation to ensure that this right is progressively realised.” Mr Shumba castigated council for failing to collect garbage on time.
“Refuse heaps continue to pile across the suburbs and in the Avenues area and central business district,” he said. “They have made repeated excuses and unfulfilled promises, worsening the situation.
“At the same time, the City of Harare is charging ratepayers for refuse collection. They have not been accountable for the refuse collection revenue, and unfortunately they have not been able to provide justifications and explanations to the satisfaction of their key stakeholders, including the ratepayers.”
Mr Shumba urged council to intensify efforts at repairing the sewer system to avoid blockages.
City corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme said council was working on various initiatives in a bid to avert future cholera and typhoid outbreaks.
“We are conducting public awareness programmes, clearing drains, replacing pipes and collecting garbage on time, provision of more water and inline water chlorination at all boreholes,” he said.
On replacement of burst sewer pipes; Mr Chideme said: “It is still work in progress. We are still procuring more materials and tracing all places with bursts.”
Mr Chideme attributed the delay in collecting garbage to grounded refuse trucks. “We are waiting for 14 of our vehicles under repair from the old fleet,” he said.