Water barons rampant in Masvingo

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© MASVINGO United Ratepayers and Residents Alliance (Murra) has hit out at unscrupulous people who are selling water at boreholes sunk by non-governmental organisations to ease severe shortages in Zimbabwe’s oldest town.

Murra spokesperson Godfrey Mutimba told the Daily News there was an upsurge of water barons who are capitalising on the water shortages in Masvingo.

“There is massive rationing in Masvingo as we can go for two to three weeks without running water and people resort to boreholes. However, some people go to the boreholes and hoard water in drums which they sell to desperate residents,” Mutimba said.

He appealed to the Masvingo City Council to urgently improve access to water.

“The council has blamed Zesa for switching off power at the water pumping system, making it hard for the local authority to distribute water to residents, but we are saying access to water is a constitutional right and we are appealing to council to resolve their issues with Zesa so that the pumping station is exempted from load-shedding to ease the crisis,” said the Murra spokesperson.

A resident of Masvingo, who declined to be named, urged the authorities to arrest the water barons who are profiteering from the crisis.

“These people must be arrested because these boreholes were drilled to assist residents and not for some selfish people to make money,” said the fuming resident.

The local authority has been struggling to supply potable water for years due to constant breakdowns at its pumping station worsened by intermittent power supplies.

Acting Masvingo Town Clerk Edward Mukaratirwa said there is currently no dedicated power line to the water works and the plant is not exempt from load shedding.

“We are contemplating putting in a generator or installing a solar system at Bushmead Water Works. Soon we will be engaging a consultant to do a feasibility study on solar installation,” he said.

Meanwhile, 4 000 residents have petitioned the council demanding an end to the incessant water cuts and given the local authority a three-week ultimatum to address the situation.

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