By Nompumelelo Moyo
Bulawayo, October 4, 2013 – Bulawayo residents and business people have welcomed the 48-hour water shedding schedule with mixed feelings at a time when the Bulawayo City Mayor, Martin Moyo has promised to iron out water challenges in the country’s second largest city.
Addressing residents and journalists at a meeting convened by the Media Institute of Southern Africa on Thursday night, Moyo promised the residents that the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) relaxation of water shedding came up after technical issues of drawing water were addressed and that they are in the process of increasing pumping of water from other council water sources.
“We are at an advanced stage in making a decision to draw more water form Nyamandlovu and Epping Forest and Zinwa must make sure that the water in these sources benefits Bulawayo residents.
“It only cost $3m million to refurbish and draw water from Epping Forest and more than $30 million to refurbish boreholes in Nyamandlovu and we hope to receive good rains this season but so far we are safe,” said Moyo.
Speaking on behalf of the residents, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association, programmes officer, Emmanuel Ndlovu welcomed the move to cancel water bills for Bulawayo
residents because the billing system used by BCC was non-functional and most of the water charges were estimates.
“We have reports of people who came to our offices with estimated bills. A Luveve resident had a bill above $900 after complaining to BCC it was slashed to $400, therefore we welcome the cancellation of bills but the Council must put its house in order,” said Ndlovu.
Bulawayo businessman, Moses Nkomo thanked the BCC for relaxing water shedding and exempting water shedding in the Bulawayo central business district so that enterprises are not affected.
“We thank BCC for their continued effort of trying to keep Bulawayo industry with running water despite the idleness of the industry. We promise to pay our debts in batches but business is low,” said Nkomo.
However, the Bulawayo Mayor called on the government to urgently resuscitate the industry in the country’s former industrial hub so that people get gainful employment that will lead to the residents paying their bills on time so that the council functions normally.
“Water is our only major source of revenue and the revival of Bulawayo’s industry will also be of benefit to Bulawayo because the city is as rich as its residents. If they have no money the city has no money. As from next week, the Council will embark on 2014 budget consultative meetings and we hope for the better of the city,” said the mayor.
He added that if funding comes their way, Khami dam water will be treated for better use at the industry in Bulawayo and water council parks.
“When we manage to get equipment to treat Khami dam water, the water will be used at the city’s industry but for now we are still looking for funding to treat that water that is raw sewage,” said the Mayor.
Early this week, the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, Hon Saviour Kasukuwere, ordered BCC to reduce water shedding period from 72 hours to 48 hours.
In an interview with Radio VOP , BCC Town Clerk Middleton Nyoni said the directive to reschedule water shedding was
arrived at after the meeting with Kasukuwere.
“Following successful continuous pumping, water volumes from Mtshabezi dam are now averaging 15 mega litres per day. As a result, a decision has been arrived at in co-operation with the City of Bulawayo for consideration of a gradual relaxation of water shedding,” said Nyoni.
“Initially, the number of water shedding days will be reduced from 72 Hours to 48 hours subject to further review,” he added.
Residents of Bulawayo have gone for months under the tight water shedding schedule following the decommissioning of BCC’s major dams.
He said although all attempts will be made to stick to the schedule, it is subject to change in cases of emergency without notice.
Nyoni also encouraged Residents to ensure that taps are tightly closed at all times and urged all consumers to continue conserving and using the precious liquid sparingly so as to avoid rapid depletion.
“It should be noted that supplies are still way below demand though industry and the CBD will be exempted from the new water shedding schedule,” said Nyoni.