HARARE – It appears it never rains but pours for Zimbabwe’s capital city, which has been struggling to supply adequate potable water to its residents, despite the above normal rains received during the last farming season.
While the heavy rains culminated in devastating floods in some places around Matabeleland North and South, Masvingo and Manicaland provinces — it is perhaps ironic that some parts of the country could be battling water shortages today.
The problem of water shortages may not be confined to the capital alone. It is a microcosm of what is obtaining elsewhere in the country.
It is sad that following routine maintenance of the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Works — which culminated in the production of an additional 20 megalitres of water — Harare has registered more burst pipes, a situation council has attributed to increased pressure on the obsolete water infrastructure.
The continued loss of water when some suburbs — especially those that lie on the eastern side of the capital such as Mabvuku, Tafara, Msasa Park among others — have not received council supplies for over a decade is disheartening.
This must be a wake-up call on council to rehabilitate water infrastructure in phases and not wait until huge amounts of water are lost. In short, council must wake up from its deep slumber.
In contrast, only a few months back, the City of Bulawayo lifted restrictions on water supplies following years of perennial shortages.
This was necessitated by the rise in water levels in dams, which supply the second city after months of heavy rainfall with Insiza Mayfair reaching 101,15 percent full, Inyankuni (59,68 percent), Lower Ncema (100 percent), Umzingwane (74,42 percent), Upper Ncema (100 percent) and Mtshabezi 104,04 percent, according to reports.
Historically, Bulawayo had been experiencing dire shortages of water, leading politicians from that region mulling drawing water from the Zambezi River. This culminated in the birth of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project.
An ambitious project being undertaken in the arid Matabeleland North Province of Zimbabwe, the 400-kilometre water pipeline was touted as the long-term solution to the southern region’s water woes.
For Harare, it appears the city fathers slept on the job for a long time, leaving the water infrastructure to corrode over time.
The continued loss of over 20 percent of treated water to leaks and burst pipes is simply not sustainable. An increase in water production should have meant expansion in the reach of Harare’s water.
Currently, even the satellite towns of Chitungwiza, Norton and Ruwa — which get their water from Harare — may not have improved supplies anytime soon.
The sooner Harare city fathers become proactive, the better for their residents.