Bulawayo residents face a bleak Christmas with a new 120-hour water-shedding program announced by the city council, effective immediately.
Mayor Cllr. David Coltart delivered the news at a press conference on Thursday, citing deteriorating water levels due to low rainfall and climate change.
“Our residents have been experiencing serious water challenges over the past weeks, with some experiencing days of no running water and some experiencing weeks. This has now been made worse by the weather conditions that we are experiencing, which has brought us into a very serious drought,” he said.
“Our Engineering department has advised us that currently our dams are at 43 percent capacity. And somehow these figures are misleading because most of our water is being held at Insiza and Mtshabezi and we cannot draw sufficient quantities of water from those two dams because of the deficiencies in the pipeline.”
Cllr Coltart said the situation has been exacerbated by erratic power cuts which have affected the two main reservoirs, Tuli and Criterion.
“Criterion, which is our main reservoir, serves as a buffer for the city because if it’s in full capacity, it can supply water even when there are power cuts. But because of continued power cuts, it (Criterion) has reached its limits. The Engineering department has explained to the councillors of the challenges and advised that we increase the delay of water supply to 120 hours,” Cllr Coltart said.
“This is designed with particular concern that we are headed into the festive season where we are likely to have more people who are outside the country coming home for the holidays. We understand that this is going to cause immense hardship, especially to those in high-density suburbs. But after an intense meeting this afternoon, this council has unanimously resolved that we have no option but to increase the water-shedding hours.”
Cllr Coltart said the city council has already written to the government, requesting a meeting with the Finance Minister, Water Minister and the Local Government Minister to address the issue and declare Bulawayo a water crisis city.
“We are confident that the government will respond urgently this time. The situation has worsened from what it was two years ago when a similar request was made. When we look at water levels and power cuts, we really need support to address this problem.”