By Nhau Mangirazi
Karoi, September 10, 2016 – A looming health disaster is stalking the farming town following the breakdown of boreholes installed seven years ago to remedy a perennial water crisis caused by continued council failure to provide water to residents.
The boreholes were installed with the assistance of United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) during the height of the country’s cholera outbreak in 2009.
Since the time, the cash-strapped transit town has failed to maintain the boreholes leading to recurrent breakdowns.
Residents have resorted to fetching drinking water from unprotected sources within the town.
Worst hit are Chikangwe, Chiedza and Claudia suburbs in which an estimated 30 000 residents live.
“Our borehole broke down several months ago and no one has been here to repair them,” said one Richard Mapanga, a Chikangwe resident.
Mapanga said their spirits have further been dampened by the departure Goal Zimbabwe, a nongovernmental organisation that has been assisting the town with water treatment chemicals and repairing some of the water infrastructure.
Goal Zimbabwe relocated to Manicaland recently.
Residents are up in arms with their council as they sometimes spend a full week without a drop coming out of their taps.
The failure by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to explain the crisis, let alone remedy the situation, has also irked residents who have grown increasingly impatient with the parastatal.
“What irks the mostly is that water is only available during the last week of the month when council would be demanding its dues in terms of monthly payments,” said 37-year-old Ratidzai Kadenhe.
Added one Theresa Mutara,“We wonder if it is by design or coincidence. We are facing a water crisis and it’s a sign of water borne disease looming as we are using water from unprotected sources. We are worse than those in rural folk who use sand filtered water for drinking.”
Zinwa officials used to shift the blame on the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority during the height of the country’s power blackouts last year but have now failed to explain the crisis since power supply is now consistent.
A Zinwa official who preferred anonymity said the problem was due to shortage on material required to replace the old piping system that has been overwhelmed by an ever ballooning urban population in the Mashonaland West town and throughout the country.
He said Unicef has pledged to assist the town.
Some residents question the town’s billing system which they say does not go down even when they go for a week without using council water.