Covid-19 stalls Harare water source switch


Caroline Chiimba


HARARE City Council’s efforts to switch water sources from Lake Chivero to Manyame Dam has been delayed by the global coronavirus (Covid-19)-induced lockdown whereby the authority is failing to ship in the needed equipment for the process, an official said.

This comes six months after the government resolved to switch water sources from Lake Chivero to Manyame Dam to address acute water shortages in the capital and surroundings as a move to improve the water quality and distribution.

Treasury subsequently released US$9,3 million for urgent works at Manyame Dam after technical experts deemed the option feasible, with expectations to draw water from the source in a space of six months.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, town clerk Hosiah Chisango said the process needs patience as there is a lot involved in switching to Manyame, from procurement processes to installation, adding that the lockdown has delayed the importation of water pumps which are critical in the switch process.

“We are still waiting for pumps which are being manufactured in Germany. However due to Covid-19 lockdown, the pumps are still trapped in Europe and we cannot commence the switch before installation of those pumps,” Chisango said.

“The switch was supposed to take six months, three months for pumps manufacturing, one-month shipment and then another two months to put the plan into motion, but there were delays in the process due to the pandemic.

“Government is catering for all the costs and I am informed that everything is going according to plan. The only problem now is the shipping of those pumps into the country.”

The local authority traditionally complemented its water supplies from Lake Chivero with those from Manyame Dam, but stopped pumping from the latter a decade ago after a lift pump at Morton Jaffray Waterworks broke down.

The breakdown rendered the infrastructure idle resulting in more pump breakdowns, over years at Manyame Dam.

Meanwhile, the authority has started drawing 50 percent of its water from Manyame and mixing it with Lake Chivero water and was yet to meet the more than 80 percent target.

While work is still underway for the upgrading of pumps at the water source, the capital and surrounding areas are still grappling with water shortages.

Harare City Council supplies potable water to the city and the surrounding local authorities of Chitungwiza, Epworth, Ruwa and Norton town councils.

Chisango pointed out that switching to Manyame will resolve the problem as the water source has more water volumes and the liquid is clean and might use lesser water treatment chemicals hence cutting costs of importing more chemicals.

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