Water crisis hits Gweru residents

Source: Water crisis hits Gweru residents | The Herald

Water crisis hits Gweru residents

Patrick Chitumba
Midlands Bureau Chief
GWERU residents have gone for five days without water forcing them to harvest rainwater and to use other unsafe sources.

Gweru City Council blames the ongoing water cuts to power outages and warned residents to brace for more interruptions.

The power cuts have affected abstraction, pumping, treatment and storage of both treated and raw water for the past five days.

GCC spokesperson Ms Vimbai Chingwaramusee blamed the persistent water challenges bedevilling the city on power cuts at Gwenhoro and White Waters dams, the two main water sources for the city.

“The dry taps in Gweru are caused by power outages. Time and again we have these power outages and we have engaged ZETDC on the issue, but nothing fruitful has come out of it. Sometimes we have low outages which makes it difficult for us to pump water,” she said.

Ms Chingwaramusee said they had even requested a dedicated power line for Gwenhoro, but nothing has materialised.

ZETDC Southern Region acting general manager Engineer Samuel Sabawo said the power outages have been caused by poles, which fell following heavy rains in and around Gweru.

He said one of the feeder poles at Gwenhoro Dam was not accessible because of unstable ground following heavy rains.

“There is indeed a power challenge that has been caused by poles which fell following heavy rains. Some of the poles have been attended to and some like the feeder at Gwenhoro haven’t been attended to because the areas are unstable due to the heavy rains. Trucks are failing to reach them,” he said.

Eng Sabawo said they had resorted to feeding Gwenhoro Dam from Shurugwi side.

However, council sources said the challenge is that Shurugwi has a lot of mines which use a lot of power, a development that leaves Gwenhoro with lower voltage that they can’t pump water.

“Gweru City Council needs to address its internal power system because when they get less than 30 volts, which they are getting from (the) Shurugwi side, they fail to pump water. They need to revamp the engineering team or department so that they have capable people running power,” said a source.

According to residents, the water cuts affect all developmental programmes, including agriculture, health, education and economic activities.

Mrs Letwin Ncube from Senga suburb said she is forced to harvest rainfall water from her rooftop since she can’t afford to buy water for household needs.

“I have three children and we make sure that when it rains, we put containers and harvest water. The harvested water is the one we use for washing, bathing and flushing. It’s not an easy process because I stay on the second floor and carrying the containers is no walk in the park. If only council had reservoirs so that we have constant supply of water in times like these,” she said.

Mr Garikari Chikwata from Mkoba 6 suburb said he can harvest as much as 100 litres of water on a good rainy day and this lessens the burden of scrounging for water.

“We have gone for almost five days without water because council supplies are not available. But because of the rains, we can breathe a sigh of relief and hope the rains continue,” he said.

Gweru Residents and Ratepayers’ Association director Mr Cornelius Selipiwe said council should consider solar energy to address the power challenges.