Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
BULAWAYO residents will soon have to endure more than four days a week without water supplies after council announced on Friday that it was considering reviewing upwards the water shedding schedule.
Most suburbs in the city are enduring a 96-hour water shedding regime as the local authority works on conserving its dwindling water supplies. Responding to written questions, the local authority’s senior public relations officer, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu, said while council was still waiting for the Government’s response in declaring the city’s water situation as a disaster zone, it will be forced to review the water shedding period upwards.
She said according to council submissions to the Central Government, it had requested the release of $910 million for the implementation of key council short term projects, to address the city’s perennial water challenges.
“Some of the projects that we target to do include the further developing and extension of the Nyamandlovu Aquifer towards Sawmills in Tsholotsho, after which it is envisaged to supply an estimated combined ground water potential yield of 20 megalitres a day. Presently the Nyamandlovu Aquifer scheme supplies on average three to four megalitres a day.
“Further, Mtshabezi Dam has the potential to supply maximum raw water of up to 25 megalitres a day. Currently the dam can supply 15 to 17 megalitres a day.
“A potential of eight to 10 megalitres a day is available, if the bulk-pipelines from Mtshabezi to Ncema Water Treatment Works are upgraded. However, in the meantime council will consider further tightening the water shedding programme of which the public will be advised accordingly,” said Mrs Mpofu.
Meanwhile, the local authority has postponed its major rehabilitation works at its Criterion water treatment plant which had seen a number of suburbs in the city go for over six days without any water supplies.
The local authority made the decision last Thursday bowing down to pressure from residents who had noted that the rehabilitation works were ill-timed as they came at a time when the world is gripped with the need to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The rehabilitation falls under the Bulawayo Sewer Services Improvement and Water Project, an ongoing project which is anticipated to end in December 2020.
In a statement, Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said council had postponed the rehabilitation that was expected to affect all low-density suburbs this weekend due to what he termed logistical reasons.
“The City of Bulawayo is currently implementing the Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (BWSSIP) being supported by the African Development Bank whose objective is to improve municipal water supply and sanitation services contributing to the improvement of the health and social well-being of the population of Bulawayo.
“The city would like to advise members of the public that the rehabilitation works scheduled for Saturday, 28 March 2020 to Monday, 30 March 2020 have been postponed.
“This is to facilitate attendance to the necessary logistics and allow for the system to stabilise and build up,” said Mr Dube.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association had early this week launched a campaign against the local authority’s move calling for the suspension of the rehabilitation work, which they noted was a direct threat to the fight against the pandemic.
One of the key messages around the preventive measures against Covid-19 has been the need to practice good hygiene that includes people washing their hands regularly with soap and running water.