Residents in Harare’s high density suburbs have reported that violent gangs are demanding money from people who want to collect water at boreholes owned by the City Council.
Many of the boreholes were donated by the United Nations through UNICEF, after cholera outbreaks gripped the capital last year. But residents say they are not being maintained by the City and nothing has been done to deal with thugs who are profiting from the water.
Water shortages intensified in the capital over the last few weeks, following a burst pipe at the Morton Jaffreys Water Treatment Plant. Residents say some of the same gangs that collect fees from vendors at flea markets and bus ranks have also taken over their local boreholes.
Reports were received from areas that include Mbare, Highfield, Budiriro, Glen Norah and Dzivarasekwa. According to Community Radio Harare (CORAH) some of the gangs are the mandimbandimbas, who recently caused havoc at bus ranks in the central business district.
The thugs, who are believed to be a faction of the notorious Chipangano gang from Mbare, were removed from the bus ranks by soldiers and police last month after they terrorized drivers and touts who refused to pay the fee.
SW Radio Africa spoke to a resident of Glen Norah, who said the situation is getting worse as residents of Highfields are now travelling to other suburbs to get water, because there are no boreholes in their own constituency.
Our source said long queues are leading to frustration and fights often break out. Older women who are not strong are paying additional fees for young men to help them with the difficult pumps. And working the water pumps has become a job for many unemployed youths who hang around the boreholes.
According to our source, many areas go without running water for days at a time. When it is turned on they only use it for washing dishes and clothes because it is usually green or brownish from rusted pipes.
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