SENIOR STAFF WRITER
CASH-STRAPPED Harare City Council (HCC) has blamed its water provision challenges on shortages of aluminium sulphate, a major chemical used to treat raw water.
The local authority said it is currently receiving a third of its daily aluminium sulphate requirements.
“We are currently experiencing depressed water production and onward conveyance to customers owing to low stocks of the major chemical, aluminium sulphate.
“We are presently receiving only two loads of the chemical instead of six loads daily,” said HCC in a statement.
As a result, the municipality, which is heavily indebted to the supplier, is only pumping 200 million litres of water daily against the usual average of around 340 million.
“Council owes the supplier $380 million. Council urges customers to pay for their municipal services, including water, to capacitate council to pay for the chemical supplies,” HCC said.
The water crisis has resulted in many suburbs going for weeks without water, while others have been deprived for months.
Combined Harare Residents Association programmes manager Reuben Aliki said there was an urgent need for the government to help HCC with funds.
“The government needs to intervene because HCC is broke. The local authorities must address the issue of billing because they are not doing proper billing… at the end of the day people will not pay.
“The government must allow other companies to manufacture water chemicals. If they continue to allow only one company to do this, it will fail to meet demand,” Aliki said.
The council has repeatedly said it was struggling to provide clean water to residents as it was facing challenges in securing foreign currency to procure water treatment chemicals and fuel.
Pollution at Lake Chivero has pushed up the cost of water purification as more treatment chemicals are now required.
In July, Harare town clerk Hosiah Chisango indicated the city council’s intention to approach the government to be allowed to start levying certain businesses in foreign currency.
“There are certain areas that without US dollars cannot be run efficiently, including water treatment chemicals and fuel purchases,” Chisango said.
He added then that the council was also negotiating with the government to be allowed to sell stands in foreign currency.