Residents express concern on the re-introduction of a water shedding program in Bulawayo

BULAWAYO residents should brace up for yet another water crisis following reports that the city council is struggling to keep up with demand due to prevalent power cuts.

For months now, the local authority has struggled to supply adequate water to residents claiming that power cuts are affecting abstraction, pumping, treatment and storage of water.

In 2020, the situation had become dire which saw residents go for more than five continuous days without water.

Council went on to lift the water-shedding program early this year, but of late water woes have resurfaced forcing residents to pay extra in order to access alternative sources.

In a statement, the Bulawayo town clerk Christopher Dube said power cuts had affected the city’s capacity continuously, and in some instances scheduled water supplies to all areas.

He said a 48-hour water shedding schedule will be in place in Bulawayo in all suburbs until the situation improves.

“The City of Bulawayo would like to advise members of the public that the city’s water facilities are currently experiencing power outages that have been affecting abstraction, pumping, treatment and storage of both treated and raw water over the past six days,” he said.

“In cases when the city reservoirs deplete to critical levels, supply to affected suburbs will be turned off until such a time where power supply to the mentioned plants has been restored to levels that will enable constant and consistent abstraction, treatment and pumping plus the raising of supply reservoirs to stable and satisfactory levels,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) on the other hand has blamed erratic power supply on copper theft and vandalism which costs about US$2 million annually.

 ZETDC is currently producing 1,095 megawatts on a daily basis against a 1,700-megawatt demand.

In an interview with InFocus News, Marylyn Donna from Pelandaba said the council should consider investing in solar-powered systems to avoid the back-and-forth disputes with ZETDC.

“We are tired of the erratic water supplies and in as much as all of us are facing power outages, the council should do better. Power will always be a problem and it is time we step up and have alternative sources of power because these water woes expose us to diseases,” she said.

“At this rate, things are likely to worsen and we may find ourselves with a 96-hour water shedding schedule. Yes, we dread that but at this point, it is very possible because both ZETDC and council are taking us for granted.”

Lungile Nyathi from Hillside said the council was already failing to stick to the published schedule as they have not had water for the past four days.

“We have been experiencing water challenges even before council made it official and it’s sad because we sometimes go for more than 5 days without running water. Now that we are in the rainy season, the power cuts may worsen and we do not want to imagine what will happen to us here in Bulawayo,” she said.

“Council should come up with a long-term solution because for the longest time we have tolerated these theories about power shortages and we can no longer rely on ZEDTC, it is not sustainable.”

Bongiwe Ndlela from Mahatshula said the announcement of the water-shedding schedule was just the tip of the iceberg as the council is struggling to provide quality services of late.

“This water challenge needs a strategy because even if power is restored, the council needs an upgrade of pipes and other resources to be able to continue providing us with quality water. It is time we invested in solar so that our supply is not disrupted by mismanagements and corruption currently affecting ZETDC,’ said Ndlela.

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