US$144m shot in arm for Harare council from China Exim Bank 

Source: US$144m shot in arm for Harare council from China Exim Bank – The Zimbabwe Independent April 27, 2018

In recent months, Harare has experienced water problems which the local authority has attributed to ageing infrastructure

China’s Exim Bank has come to the rescue of the City of Harare after it extended a US$144 million loan facility for the improvement of water reticulation systems and infrastructure.

By Nkululeko Sibanda

In recent months, Harare has experienced water problems which the local authority has attributed to ageing infrastructure.

The authority charges that some of the pipes used in the distribution of water had been worn out, resulting in pipe bursts and loss of high volumes of clean water.

Harare’s water is also dirty and contaminated.

City council spokesperson, Michael Chideme told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview in Bulawayo on the sidelines of the ongoing trade fair event Harare had already sunk in $72 million into the water works.

“We are almost done with the refurbishment of the Morton Jaffrey water treatment plant. We got a loan from the China Exim Bank of which half of that money, US$$72 million has been disbursed and used in the refurbishment works of that station,” said Chideme.

“As we speak, we are awaiting the disbursement of the second tranche of the money and once that is done, we should be able to complete our programme as planned. This will indeed improve the manner in which we have been delivering water to our ratepayers.”

Of late, the council has come under fire from ratepayers who have accused the local authority of providing them with what residents said was dirty water.

The water, the residents said, was dirty and laden with impurities, making it unsuitable for human consumption.

This has heightened fears of a possible outbreak of diseases such as cholera owing to the contaminated water.

However, the council has defended its water, arguing it was the old water reticulation infrastructure that was affecting the water it delivers to consumers.

The local authority argued its water met set World Health Organisation recommended standards for clean water.

The solution, the council said, lay in the replacement of the water reticulation equipment.

“To just highlight, we recently signed a 3, 5 million euro grant deal with the Netherlands government through its water utility, Vitenz Edes, for further improvement of our water utility systems. Our hope is that once all these have been completed, the people of Harare will have access to improved water provision as well as clean water in the very foreseeable future,” Chideme added.

Chideme said council was in the process of finalising revenue collection processes to enable it to collect all water-related revenue in an effective manner.

“We are in the final stages of awarding of the contract for the installation of the smart water meters. Once this has been concluded, we should, as council, be able to roll out the smart water meter programme and be able to collect revenue for the water we deliver to the residents and other stakeholders,” he said.

A few years ago, council was locked in a bitter wrangle with residents associations over the installation of pre-paid water meters in the capital.

Residents said they had not been consulted by council on the installation of the water meters, a move they said impinged on their right to access clean and portable water. Most residents risked being cut off from water supplies as a result of the pre-paid water meters in the event they failed to pay for the water to the council.