DESPERATE residents of Pumula South in Bulawayo have resorted to fetching water from shallow wells and open pits dug by council’s roads department as the local authority insists on its 144-hour water-rationing schedule.
BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association chairperson Ambrose Sibindi yesterday said the water situation in most residential areas was dire.
“This is because of desperation to have this precious liquid which we understand some houses have gone for weeks without. The bowsers sent by council are overwhelmed because of the number of areas in the same dilemma and that’s the reason why we are on record saying the Bulawayo water situation should be declared a national disaster by the government,” Sibindi said.
“Our call falls on deaf ears when residents are suffering and their lives are also in danger as they source water from places that have not been scientifically proven for human consumption and use.”
Ibhetshu lika Zulu secretary Mbuso Fuzwayo said: “There can be a permanent solution. Government must not politicise water because the council is under opposition. We don’t want Khami water, Gukurahundi threw people in Khami Dam.”
A consultant contracted by the government to assess the water situation in Bulawayo, Paul Kruger, a few weeks ago said there was no water crisis in the city, but lack of capacity by council to draw available water.
This then led the government to decline to declare Bulawayo a water crisis area.
The city implemented a 144-hour water-shedding regime after it decommissioned the third water source, Lower Ncema Dam, recently.
The city decommissioned Umzingwane and Upper Ncema dams.
Last week, Zapu spokesperson for Bulawayo province, Mandla Khanye, called on the government and the city council to work together to ensure the completion of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project to resolve the water crisis.
“Bulawayo water crisis is a ticking time bomb. The cause of all this is the central government and Bulawayo City Council (BCC) which are failing to see the magnitude of a pending problem facing the city, which in the past was the industrial hub of the region,” he said.
“The dire situation of water in Bulawayo requires government and BCC to take drastic steps to contain the crisis. At this hour of great need, all responsible institutions should put their differences aside and work together for the common good of our city.”
Khanye said some areas had gone for a month without water, forcing desperate residents to fetch water from unprotected sources.
“The search for a permanent solution to the issue was done, and only the Zambezi pipeline was thought of as a permanent solution,” he said.
“BCC and government should advance plans for the preliminary stages of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project.
These included the Gwayi-Shangani confluence dam and the Nyamandlovu Aquifer Boreholes Project.”
Khanye said the Finance ministry should allocate funding towards water development.
“Government must seek funds from international financial institutions. We want sustainable water that will go beyond the coronavirus pandemic. The problem has been ignored for too long,” he said.