Water is top priority for Gweru residents

Residents in Gweru have said the provision of adequate, clean and safe water by the local authority is top of the agenda for them in the coming year

Their concerns come amid indications that the authorities in the third largest town are responding slowly to the water crisis that emerged after the biggest supply dam, Gwenhoro, was decommissioned in September.

When the dam was closed, its water capacity had fallen to two per cent. The council then switched to Amapongogwe dam, which at present is at 39 per cent capacity for domestic and industrial water supplies.

However, the dam can only supply the precious liquid to low-lying areas in the city. The needs of higher areas have not yet been met by the city council.

“The assurance that we got from council was that nobody would die of thirst, as the city fathers had planned to sink about 39 boreholes while waiting for the rainy season to help in restoring water levels at Gwenhoro dam,” said Cornelia Selipiwe, the Gweru Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association chair.

“However, at present, areas like Mkoba 19, 3 and 17 are faced with dry taps – a situation that is also affecting Senga and other places.

“That problem therefore makes us expect the city council to speed up the efforts of providing clean and safe water to residents in the coming year. Water is a basic need and so we expect them to take our wishes seriously.”

While residents facing water shortages expect to see their taps flowing in the coming year, those who are already getting water are questioning its cleanliness and safety.

Selipiwe’s sentiments were echoed by dozens of residents who spoke to The Zimbabwean separately.

“The issue of water is key to us. We understand our councillors are still new in office, but our hope is that they will rise up and ensure that we have enough supplies of water next year,” said Newman Bhajila from Mkoba 18 suburb.

Hardlife Nyikadzino, a member of a landscaping cooperative based in Athlone, reiterated the need for the local authority to ensure adequate water supplies to residents, along with effective chemicals for treating it.

“It would be a noble thing if the council would consider using trucks to ferry water from areas that get better supplies to higher places that do not have water. It would be appreciated by us and also boost our confidence in them in the coming year,” said another resident, Primrose Johns.

Mehluli Sibanda, a resident from Mokoba 19 who runs a boutique in town, said though availability of water was important, it was also crucial for the commodity to be clean and safe, so that a repeat of the 2008 cholera epidemic could be avoided.