Harare City will lose US$735 000 monthly if it implements Government’s directive not to charge residents the first 6 000 litres of water, Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda has said.
His comments were triggered by Water Resources Development and Management Minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo’s announcement recently that residents of cities, towns and growth points should not pay water charges for the first six cubic meters.
Mr Masunda last week questioned the logic behind the directive. “We do not know where the Honourable Minister thinks the money will come from to get the raw water, treat it and distribute it to consumers,” he said. “For the City of Harare, that is not going to happen. If we abide by the Minister’s directive we stand to lose US$735 000 a month,” he said.
A report compiled by Harare Water department on the same issue also revealed the same financial prejudice.
“A total of US$735 000 would be lost if the city were to supply the first six cubic metres of water for free to all the residents of Greater Harare. This is a 14 percent loss in revenue.
“The city cannot afford this since it is already failing to fund its maintenance and operation expenses,” reads the report.
Harare has 192 000 domestic water connections. The city supplies water to Norton, Chitungwiza, Ruwa, Inkomo, Chikurubi, Epworth and Domboshawa Institute.
Councillor Herbert Gomba described Minister Nkomo as “dangerous” and bent on “populist politics” while responding to Mr Masunda’s remarks.
“The Minister’s priorities are wrong. He should be looking for more water sources for Harare. He is instead focusing on populist rhetoric,” he said.
Clr Gomba accused Minister Nkomo of spurning overtures from the city to partner Government in the construction of alternative water sources for Harare like Kunzvi and Musami dams.
Describing the minister’s moves as dangerous, Clr Gomba implored the minister to swallow his pride and work with council in sourcing funding for the construction of dams.
But Clr Peter Moyo felt the attack on Minister Nkomo was not justified.
He said Mr Masunda should constructively engage Minister Nkomo on the issue.
Harare residents have not accessed adequate water in the past few weeks owing to serious plant breakdowns at Morton Jaffray, huge leaks on the reticulation system and a high demand caused by the rising temperatures.
In his report to the environmental management committee, Harare Water director Eng Christopher Zvobgo attributed the water shortages to rising temperatures and constant infrastructure breakdowns.
He said the heavily polluted water in Darwendale Dam and Lake Manyame also contributed to water shortages.
He said the city was throttling supplies in all areas that are fed directly from the water mains and would continue with the leak-sealing exercise.
He said the city had introduced rotational water rationing. But due to difficulties in the water distribution system, the water could not be rationed equitably.
He said the furthest and highest areas would continue to receive less water with Hatcliffe, Highlands, Borrowdale, Dzivarasekwa and Msasa Park the hardest hit.
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