Rejoyce Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
BULAWAYO has been hit by a serious water crisis with most suburbs going for more than a week without running water amid fears of a disease outbreak.
The water crisis has also led to residents travelling long distances to fetch water.
The disruption in the water supply has been caused by prolonged hours of electricity shedding.
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has temporarily suspended its 72-hour water-shedding schedule due to water supply interruptions emanating from persistent power outages that have seen council failing to pump enough water from its supply dams into reservoirs.
Only the industrial site and the city’s central business district has been spared from power cuts.
Before the latest development, BCC has been implementing a weekly 72-hour water-shedding programme to preserve water.
Zimbabwe is presently facing acute power shortages which have seen consumers going for long hours, outside the normal load-shedding periods, without electricity.
BCC said once the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) restores power to the affected plants and stations, raw water abstraction at Inyankuni, water treatment at Ncema and pumping at both Ncema and Fernhill will resume.
The local authority said it was forced to suspend water provision to the rest of the city to prevent its system from collapsing.
When a Chronicle news crew visited some of the affected suburbs yesterday, there were long winding queues at boreholes while some churches were allowing residents to fetch water at their premises.
Residents said they were now living in fear of contracting water-borne diseases as some of them were now resorting to unhygienic water sources.
Mrs Shylet Nyathi (48) from Pumula South said the suburb has gone for a week without water.
“Our suburb has gone for a week now without running water. We are now forced to spend most of our time in these long queues to get water for washing and other domestic uses. For example, today I did not go to church because there was no water in my house,” she said.
Mrs Nyathi said the suburb is only relying on two boreholes, which are failing to cope with huge demand.
Another resident Ms Sipho Moyo said the suburb has been facing water delivery challenges over the past years.
“I remember there was once a time when the suburb went for about three months without running water and we had to rely on boreholes. The council should at least notify us if there are changes regarding the timetable so that we are aware,” she said.
Ms Moyo said the worsened water challenges in the city presented a new health challenge in the communities they were living in.
She said they have gone for more than two weeks without running water in the suburb.
“People are forced to crowd in one place to queue for water and this is a health time bomb. We are likely to have a disease outbreak and due to this water crisis, we have learnt to use water wisely by minimising its frequent use and recycling,” said Ms Moyo.
Mr Thabisani Ndlovu (29) of Pumula South said: “The only time there are no long queues is in the afternoon and on Sundays when most people would be attending church. We are really having a difficult time accessing clean water and that is not good.”
Mr Ndlovu said some boreholes have been vandalised and are no longer working resulting in the people crowding around a few functional ones.
Mr Mduduzi Mpofu of Lobengula West said they are now forced to resort to “bush toilets” to save the little available water secured from water bowsers or communal boreholes.
In a statement last week, the town clerk Mr Christopher Dube said the city’s water situation will be restored to normalcy once ZETDC resolves the electricity challenge.
The City of Bulawayo would like to advise members of the public of water supply interruption and suspension of the 72-hour shedding programme to all areas in the city except industry and the central business district,” he said.
“This is a result of load shedding at Ncema, Inyankuni and Fernhill. This has resulted in a lack of treatment and pumping of water into the city.”
Mr Dube said once ZETDC restores power to the affected plants and stations, raw water abstraction at Inyankuni, water treatment at Ncema and pumping at both Ncema and Fernhill will resume.
He said they were forced to suspend water provision to the rest of the city to prevent its system from collapsing.
“To protect the supply and distribution reservoirs from collapsing, the City of Bulawayo will temporarily suspend the current 72-hour shedding programme and cut off supply to the mentioned areas until power is restored to the affected treatment plants and pump stations,” said Mr Dube. [email protected]
Article Source: The Chronicle