By Lungile Ngwenya and Senzeni Ncube
The city council has announced that water would be shutdown totally in the whole of Bulawayo, until its water systems stabilises.
This means Zimbabwe’s second largest city will go without water for a longer period again.
Last week, residents went for more than a week without water, after the Bulawayo City Council imposed a city-wide four-day water shedding programme that soon turned into an eight-day challenge citing major rehabilitation works at its water treatment plants.
This left most suburbs in the city in an uncomfortable situation, especially those who had no alternative sources of potable water, leaving residents dry and desperate.
Upon receiving the latest notice from council, residents have now started making frantic efforts to fetch and store water preparing for the dry days ahead.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), coordinator, Emmanuel Ndlovu has also called on schools to close until the water situation returns to normalcy.
“This poses health scare in public institutions such as schools and placed a considerable burden on ordinary residents as they are forced to spend long productive hours queuing for water,” he said.
Ndlovu added that BPRA is further calling for heads to roll in council and for relevant powers to declare a State of Emergency in Bulawayo.
A survey conducted by CITE in Pumula, revealed that some residents go as far as the Central Business District to collect water since there are no boreholes in their residential suburbs.
Some residents were seen boarding into town, carrying their empty 20 litre buckets to fill in the city then board either ZUPCO buses or other modes of transport back with the previous liquid.
“I had to go to town carrying a 20 -litre container, the one you are seeing with me, as there is no nearby borehole here. We have decided that every time someone goes to town they have to carry a container with them,” said Thabani Mlambo, a Pumula North resident.
Another resident was also spotted running for a ZUPCO bus carrying an empty container, signs that the water situation is now growing out of hand.
“We do not have boreholes here in Pumula North so the only alternative is for people to go into the city and fetch water. At least one pays ZUPCO, 50c to and from town. What can we do? We now have to strategise how we can acquire more water,” cried one Tendai Matanda.
Other residents in Pumula claimed they had to hire scotch carts, at ZW$4 a trip to fetch water from a borehole in Magwegwe.
They appealed to the municipality to allow them to access water from the municipality structures.
Martha Moyo, a widow surviving on selling vegetables, lamented that the water woes were affecting her upkeep as she could no longer water her garden.
Some residents fear that there might soon be an outbreak of cholera, as some were not as clean conscious.
BCC Town Clerk Christopher Dube said anticipated that the latest water shutdown would allow the city’s system to stabilise, after which they would resume the 48-hour water shedding programme.
“The City of Bulawayo advises residents that the works are still ongoing and we are currently operating at 50 percent capacity, with efforts to finalise the current works as a matter of urgency.”
He said water bowsers will be supplied in areas that haven’t received water as yet.
“We are aware of all the areas which have not yet received water and we will be supplying these with water bowsers,” said Dube.
He pointed out that water supply within the city has also been affected by the extensive electricity cuts in the country, amid allegations of some residents vandalising water pipelines.
“ZETDC has further advised BCC to reduce the number of pumps for water supply. This means a reduction in the water getting into the city,” said the town clerk.
“BCC encourages residents to desist from vandalising water pipelines as this has an impact on water supply throughout the City. Residents are urged to conserve water whenever supplies are restored.”