Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
GWERU City Council has received $125 million in devolution funds since 2019 which helped it avert a potential water shortage disaster as the local authority was failing to raise money to buy water pumps.
In 2019, the local authority received the first batch of $9,3 million in devolution funds enabling it to buy the pumps.
The following year it received $19 million before getting a further $97 million last year making the total to $125 million that has enabled the council to address its water pumping and reticulation challenges.
This was said by the council’s director of finance Mr Owen Masimba while addressing members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works, National Housing and Social Amenities led by Cde Miriam Chikukwa on Tuesday.
The committee was at town house to investigate issues raised in a petition by Gweru Residents Forum (GRF).
The Forum accused council of lack of accountability in the use of devolution funds and flouting tender procedures.
GRF board secretary Dr Vincent Chakunda told the committee that council was not consulting residents regarding priority areas where devolution funds could be channelled to.
“As residents we are a strategic partner to the council and we need to know how much council gets as devolution money and help to identify priority areas that need funding,” he said.
In response Mr Masimba said council has always been consulting residents and stakeholders on how to use the devolution funds.
He said history will show that from 2019 when the first batch of devolution funds was released by the Government, everyone was agreed that the issue of water supply needed urgent attention.
Mr Masimba said in 2020 council bought three high lift pumps and accessories to improve its pumping capacity.
“We increased pumping capacity from 23 megalitres to 45 megalitres and this has seen many residents getting water,” he said.
Mr Masimba said in 2021 council received $97,8 million out of the $132 million allocated by the Government.
“We are waiting for the balance to complete the 2021 projects but council managed to use part of the money received to buy a transformer for Gwenhoro water works, a front-end loader, a tipper truck, four skip bins, 114 solar lights, a fully equipped ambulance and a refuse truck yet to be delivered,” he said.
Mr Masimba said some of the money will be spent on upgrading of White Waters and Gwenhoro water works.
Cde Chikukwa urged council and residents to work together so that they agree on their priorities when it comes to funding projects using devolution funds.
Article Source: The Chronicle