VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekezela Mphoko yesterday said Zimbabwe will soon sell some of its excess water to South Africa’s dry northern provinces.
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
Speaking at the commissioning of Beitbridge town’s $40 million water treatment plant, Mphoko said negotiations between the two countries were already at an advanced stage.
He said the facility — whose initial cost was $11m, but somehow announced as $40m yesterday — could be the first step towards that arrangement.
“This water treatment plant could be one of the quick wins for the bilateral co-operation, since there is already an existing pipeline from Beitbridge to Musina,” Mphoko said.
Until the late 1990s, when water supplies became erratic in Beitbridge, the South Africa border post at Beit Bridge drew its water from Zimbabwe.
South Africa’s northern provinces are dry and export of the commodity could improve the situation of Vhembe district and Beitbridge’s finances.
“The Beitbridge Water Treatment plant is a living testimony of our determination to resolve the access to water matrix and set a new trajectory. We believe we are firmly on path,” Mphoko said.
He said the improvement of the water situation in Beitbridge was likely to improve the town’s status as an investment destination.
Mphoko implored Beitbridge residents to jealously guard the water plant.
“Let me appeal to the residents of Beitbridge to ensure that this pricey infrastructure is protected from vandalism so that it can live its full lifespan,” he said.
Speaking at the same function, Local Government deputy minister Christopher Chingosho urged local authorities to improve on service delivery.
He said most local authorities were performing badly and needed to upgrade their ageing infrastructure to cope up with rural to urban migration.
Chingosho said more land would be provided to help Beitbridge’s growth, considering it would soon be a municipality.
“Because of the impending municipal status, the growth of Beitbridge is now inevitable, as more land is being availed for residential development,” he said.
Chingosho asked residents to pay their water bills, with arrears standing at more than $12m, to enable the local authority to provide efficient services.
“These problems (non-payment) have seen the local authority failing to pay its obligations to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and other creditors,” he said.
Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, speaking at the same meeting, said the project cost was $40m, although a brochure distributed showed figures as low as $10 898 185,88.
She appealed to residents to guard against pollution of their water bodies, which would negatively impact costs of purification.
“Harare is using nine chemicals to treat its water and you use only two, so you must guard your reservoirs,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said.
Beitbridge’s water holding dams are upstream of the current settlement, but the growth of the town westwards could soon bring the dams under threat from waste.
Muchinguri-Kashiri urged Beitbridge to match its sewer system with the growing town.
Currently, the town’s sewer system is in need of upgrading, with a foul stench engulfing from the existing sewer ponds which are poorly managed.
The Beitbridge water plant, which took almost nine years to complete, was built by China International Water and Electrical Corporation.
It has the capacity of treating 4 000 cubic metres per hour and is expected to push water up to 40km into the rural areas.