The country’s second largest city is sitting on a health time bomb as it emerged this week that council is mulling increasing water cuts from three days to four days a week.
The impending plans follow hard on the heels of aggressive water cuts adopted by the city fathers recently.
Last month, the city increased water cuts to residents from twice a week to the current three times per week in desparate attempts to conserve the precious resource.
Fears of a cholera outbreak hitting the city are growing with the city supply dams now quickly drying up.
Two of the city’s five supply dams, Lower Ncema and Umzingwane have already been decommissioned.
Upper Ncema and Inyankuni are likely to be decommissioned in November and December respectively, leaving Bulawayo being serviced by only one supply dam, Insiza dam.
Ian Mthunzi, a Bulawayo City Council (BCC) water engineer, said the water levels in reservoirs were going down at an alarming rate.
“Very soon, we would be forced to pump water straight from the dams and bypass the reservoirs. If residents fail to stick to the prescribed rationing limits, shedding would have to be increased from 72 hours to 96 hours per week to ensure that the water we have lasts until the next rainy season,” he said.
BCC has a set target of 95 000 cubic meters of water per day, but consumption is currently at 123 000 cubic meters — placing a heavy strain on the available water resources.
The water situation has been made even more precarious as schools opened last week for the third term.The water cuts have greatly affected pupils who face severe water shortages for use in toilets.
Residents in the Western suburbs of Magwegwe, Cowdray Park, Entumbane and Mzilikazi are among the hardest-hit by the water cuts. Residents in these areas claim that council was not following its schedule hence the water cuts were irregular.
Nesisa Mpofu, the BCC public relations officer, admitted as much, saying council would try to stick to the schedule and advise residents if any changes occur.
In Harare, the poor handling of the city’s water supplies has seen the outbreak of cholera and typhoid, which the Muchadeyi Masunda-led council has been battling to contain since the beginning of the year.
The water crisis has become a thorn in the side of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T)-run BCC in the wake of corruption charges against party officials and accusations of poor service delivery, extending to other MDC-T run city councils.
BCC, operating on a shoe-string budget, was affected earlier in the year by wage disputes and a strike that coincided with its hosting of the Zimbabwe International Trade Far in April.
Residents are not amused with BCC’s falling service delivery, warning that a drop in the frequency of refuse collection could spark a health hazard in the city.
The Minister of Water Development and Management, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo has refused to declare the city’s water woes a national disaster, insisting that the water crisis was not unique to Bulawayo alone, but was a nationwide disaster.
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