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‘Declare Bulawayo water crisis national disaster’

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BULAWAYO legislator Anele Ndebele has revived calls for the city’s on-going  water crisis to be declared “a state of national disaster” as 13 residents have died due to diarrhoea-related diseases arising from contaminated tap water.
Two months ago, government rebuffed calls by residents to declare the city’s water crisis a national disaster citing a report by its consultant who said the city had enough water to last up to 14 months. The consultant further indicated that the water challenges in the city were merely technical therefore were not something to raise alarm about.
The city is currently experiencing at least 144 hours of water shedding per week as the city’s remaining three supply dams are currently 28 percent full.
In his submission in Parliament on Wednesday Ndebele said: “…Speaker, I wish to address myself quickly to the Luveve water situation.
“From as early as May this year, residents of Luveve in Bulawayo have been getting sick from drinking municipal water.”
“The same has happened in Lobengula, Magwegwe, Mpopoma and elsewhere but without causing death. The Luveve water supply conundrum Hon. Speaker Sir, is not just a Luveve issue, it is a Bulawayo issue and by extension, a Zimbabwean issue.
“I have a prayer…in line with Section 77 of our Constitution, if it pleases..could you kindly and urgently declare the Bulawayo water situation a state of disaster so that the response thereto becomes global and we get cooperating partners assisting our government in dealing with Luveve water situation urgently.”
In response, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda said the matter was not open to debate as the “delivery was as clear as water; we do not want to dilute it..I am sure relevant authorities have taken note of that and will respond accordingly,” Mudenda noted.
Meanwhile, residents here have expressed concern over the unrestrained overcrowding that has lately been taking place at Bulawayo City Council (BCC) water bowsers.
The local authority has in the past two months been implementing a six-day water shedding programme which forced the City Fathers to introduce kiosks to mitigate the shortages, hence avert a possible outbreak of diseases.
While the idea has been hailed by residents, the overcrowding at the bowser distribution points has been cited as a ticking time bomb, especially at a time when coronavirus (Covid-19) cases continue to spike.
“Bulawayo residents are living like refugees. Water insecurity is by far one of the biggest challenges facing residents.
“Continued, uninterrupted supply of water is a critical pillar for survival but Bulawayo’s six-day water shedding regime leaves residents exposed as they queue at water points,” said Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association coordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu.
He said there was need to avail more water bowsers as a measure to protect residents.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) said its members were in danger.
“The saddest part with fetching water from the bowser is that there is no fixed timetable for residents to know the exact time of fetching water.
“As a result, they are forced to wait long hours in queues without respecting social distancing…. placing their lives at risk of contracting coronavirus,” said BVTA director Michael Ndiweni.
However, Mayor Solomon Mguni said the city handed over the water kiosks to the affected communities “and the security and safety of the people at those water kiosks is now the responsibility of the relevant community through their community water users’ committees that have been set up and trained by the city through their ward councillor.”

 

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