Nkosilathi Sibanda, Business Correspondent
HWANGE Local Board (HLB) has started connecting water to over 500 households in Empumalanga suburb’s Phase 4 housing project after residents had gone for over a decade without access to potable water.
The unavailability of safe drinking water had exposed residents to health hazards and also put a halt on a number of developmental projects in Matabeleland North’s fastest growing town. Residents had to walk long distances to fetch water and at times take the risk from unsafe water holes.
Empumalanga is one of Hwange town’s sprawling settlements with new residential and business space being available for construction investment. Currently, 191 households and residential stands out of a total of 508 already have access to water.
HLB revealed that as of now, 2 536 metres of pipe network out of a total stretch of 6 374 metres was laid down in its reticulation project. Owing to the need to offer residents quality service delivery, HLB said the commissioned water reticulation works at Empumalanga Phase 4 housing project was part of efforts to effectively monitor and avail portable water to residents through legal channels.
In the past, there were property owners that were in fact, illegally connecting water. The local authority’s water connection project was part of its initiative of restricting the illegal water connections. The Empumalanga Phase 4 water reticulation programme was a long standing legacy issue which seeks to rectify an anomaly that saw beneficiaries of residential stands commencing developments before the land could be serviced, said HLB public relations officer Mr Dumisani Nsingo in an interview on Friday.
“The water reticulation project in Phase 4 is a legacy issue that dates back in 2009. Work there started in May and we are having to rely on manual labour due lack of requisite machinery or funding to hire the same,” said Nsingo.
He said HLB foresaw the project as an enabler to boost the local authority’s coffers.
“Connecting water to these households will enhance Council’s revenue generation as it will be able to collect rates from the property owners. It will also prove our ability to manage water distribution.”
Mr Nsingo said HLB was confident and optimistic that they will have covered a lot of ground before the end of the year. He said future projects will require that no housing developments are done without prior water and sewer connections.
“Going forward we will ensure there won’t be any form of housing development that will commence before installation of the water reticulation system. We have a number of housing projects which are lined-up and these will be subject to the same process,” said Mr Nsingo.
Future housing projects at hand are said to be earmarked for the area nearby Don Bosco vocational college and now that is funded by First Bank Corporation (FBC). The local authority was expediting the water reticulation project so as to enable the resumption of other proposed housing projects, according to town secretary Pastor Ndumiso Madlose in the town’s recent monthly newsletter.