Parliament condemns poor service delivery in councils

PARLIAMENT’S portfolio committee on Local Government has expressed dismay over the state of service delivery by local authorities countrywide, the Daily News reports.

According to a report presented in the National Assembly on Tuesday, the committee conducted inquiries in Binga, Hwange, Victoria Falls, Bulawayo, Kadoma, Chegutu and Zvimba from March 2, holding meetings with local authority officials and councillors, as well as touring some water and waste treatment plants, clinics, schools and roads.
“The committee noted that most of the local authorities were facing challenges in terms of provision of adequate clean water because the Wash sector was in a deplorable state,” the report reads.
The collapse of the crucial service, the committee reported, has been a culmination of multiple factors, which include pollution of water bodies, lack of capital injection, the compromise of wetlands as well as drought, resulting in the drying up of water sources such as dams which supply most of the urban and rural areas with water.
“In addition, service delivery was also affected by the chronic power shortages and the shortage of foreign currency to procure essential inputs such as water treatment chemicals.
“Resultantly, the crisis in the Wash sector has led to the outbreak of several water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery particularly in the urban areas.
“The committee learnt from the various local authorities that they were facing acute challenges in providing water services due to the huge losses of water that occur due to aged water reticulation infrastructure,” the committee said.
In the whole of Binga District, the committee learnt that it had 315 boreholes, 536 deep wells, two major dams and 12 weirs.
It also observed that the district had established 18 piped water schemes with assistance from partners whereby after putting up a borehole, the local authority had to install water pipes to pump the water from the boreholes to the communities.
However, at the time of the committee’s visit, Binga rural district council had managed to provide pumped water directly from boreholes to six schools as well as to 12 communities.
“The committee learnt that four out of 92 local authorities’ water supply is owned by Zinwa. Hwange local board is one of the four local authorities that wish to have 100 percent ownership of water supply.
“Hwange local board complained that they have no control over the amount of raw water provided by Zinwa yet local authorities are the ones responsible for supplying water to residents.
“It submitted that an ideal situation was for Zinwa to hand over the management of water to the remaining four councils to avoid complications of the two institutions dealing with the provision of water.
“They also pointed out that if they had control of water, their revenue flow would improve and they would be able to provide adequate water to the residents of Hwange,” the committee said.
It also gathered that Bulawayo City relied on two dams for its water supply and the dams were said to be virtually empty because of the poor rainfall season.
“At the time of the committee’s visit, the city was supplying water three times a day to the community with the exception of the central business centre, industrial areas, university and hospitals.
“Bulawayo City Council said its biggest problem was that about 70 percent of its sewer was flowing into the environment due to the collapsed sewer infrastructure and the sprouting of illegal settlements in Mbundane and Emthunzini thus increasing the risk of enteric infections in the area”.
Almost the same problems were observed in Kadoma which has two water treatment plants with a total capacity of 20 megalitres per day as well as Chegutu whose water supply system consisted one water treatment plant constructed in the 1960s.
The inadequacy of potable water supply in Chegutu was attributed to water that is not paid for because it is lost in the process of distribution due to aged infrastructure.
“The committee also had an opportunity to tour some of the health facilities the local authorities visited and learnt that local authorities had a statutory mandate to establish and provide primary health care facilities within their localities.
“As such, health facilities should be within an eight-kilometre radius from the place of residence.
“The Committee learnt from the local authorities that plans were in motion to increase and improve their health facilities.
“However, in most areas, the nearest health facilities were beyond the eight-kilometre radius,” the report reads further.
The committee attributed the majority of the problems regarding roads to late disbursements of funds by Zinara as there was inadequate fiscal support from central government big projects since all local authorities cited the incapacitation to raise funds from their own coffers.
“Lack of fuel and refuse collection trucks was affecting the collection of garbage, resulting in illegal dumping of refuse, thus exposing residents to diseases.
“Local authorities were not implementing by-laws in terms of revenue collection and dumping of refuse at illegal places because general service delivery was poor,” the committee said.

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