Bulawayo Central Member of Parliament (MP), Nicola Watson, has challenged the government to seriously consider addressing the city’s water security situation.
The plea by the legislator comes at a time when residents of the country’s second-largest city are enduring 96 hours per week of water-shedding, something compromising their health and general well-being.
Two of Bulawayo’s six supply dams have since been decommissioned and to save the little water that remains, the city was left with no choice but to resort to the stringent shedding regime.
The lasting solution to Bulawayo’s perennial water woes lies in the completion of the century-old Zambezi Water Project which has not received adequate funding from the government over years.
During a question and answer session, with Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, in Parliament Wednesday, Watson said it was high time authorities addressed water challenges in Bulawayo.
“If I could go back to the issue of dams, we have heard about the issue of Kunzvi Dam but my appeal to the Minister is that concerning Bulawayo; you have spoken about re-industrialisation and power but you did not speak about water security,” said Watson.
“Bulawayo has not had a new dam or access to water. The Gwayi-Shangani Dam has been budgeted for, for many years. My plea is that you ensure that the money budgeted for the Gwayi-Shangani Dam is released timeously so that the work is actually done.”
The Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which is part of the bigger Zambezi Water Project, was allocated ZWL$400 million in the 2020 national budget.
“The Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Water stood up in this House and promised that the dam (Gwayi-Shangani) would be finished now, December 2019,” lamented Watson.
“It is not anywhere near being finished and it has been on the cards for many years. The cofferdams have been washed away many times. It is imperative that the dam is there and the size is sufficient to catch the water that it can possibly help Bulawayo. Bulawayo is extremely water insecure. It is not good for the city to be put in that predicament.”
In his response, the Finance Minister said Treasury would do its best to ensure funds allocated to Gwayi-Shangani Dam are disbursed in time.
“Honourable Member, I agree with you that Gwayi-Shangani Dam needs to be completed. We will try our best to disburse funds timely. It is long-awaited and the city needs water urgently,” said Ncube.