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No end in sight to Harare water woes

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HARARE residents should brace for longer dry spells as water woes are set to worsen with the local authority grappling to secure adequate water treatment chemicals while owing its suppliers a whooping US$74 million.
Most suburbs in the capital which usually have running tap water have gone without the precious liquid for more than a week, including the central business district and Sunningdale.
However, other suburbs were hard hit by the crisis, going for months without the precious liquid.
While Harare City Council is battling to settle its US$74 million debt owed to the local authority’s sole water treatment chemicals supplier, Chemplex, Environment Management Committee chairperson Kudzai Kadzombe said the city’s water supply remains depressed.
Harare requires 120 tonnes per day of aluminium sulphate to treat water.
“We are treating limited amounts of water so that we stretch the available chemicals to cover more days,” Kadzombe said.
“The city’s customers owe over $900 million and the debt is crippling operations as there are not enough financial resources to meet the day-to-day operations and we owe our creditors $500 million, a development that is restricting their capacity to do business with council,” Kadzombe said.
He added that some of council’s water pipes have outlived their shelf life and they are unable to do a wholesale replacement because of limited funding.
City of Harare acting director for water Mabhena Moyo said the city used to receive seven trucks of chemicals daily, but now they are only receiving two trucks a day and as a result, water production has since dropped by more than 40 percent to 150 megalitres a day from the previous 300 megalitres.
City water engineer Charles Chinyaya also said the effects of climate change is one of the challenges in water delivery with dams running dry faster than normal although the issue of water chemicals remains critical.
“The production of water is just like business, one needs revenue to continue in business. What is happening right now is that the very few people who are getting water are not paying to Council and this result to us making losses and being unable to buy purifying chemicals,” Chinyanya said.
“As it is, we owe our suppliers US$74 million in debt and this makes it difficult on their part to supply us with more chemicals when we are not paying.”
Currently, the city is importing treatment chemicals at a cost of US$3 million every month while its water account is in huge deficit.Harare council has been failing to give constant supply of tap water to residents due to challenges in accessing treatment chemicals.

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