3 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Masunda Promises Improved Water Supply

HARARE residents are likely to start enjoying clean and improved water supply next month, according to Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda.

Masunda told The Standard yesterday that following technical advice from officials from South Africa's Ethekwini municipality, the city will soon procure pressure reducing valves (PRVs) to minimise water losses.

"If everything goes according to plan, we should start seeing considerable improvement in the provision of potable water from March onwards," Masunda said. "The guys from Ethekwini will help us install the PRVs on certain points in the system to reduce the water pressure and in the process reduce losses."

Masunda said council expected to spend about US$2 million on the exercise which will reduce the pressure which he said was currently too high.

"Our pipes are too old, some of them dating back to the mid-1970s, so you can imagine what this pressure which is high enough to kill a person does to them," Masunda said.

He added that council urgently needed US$14 million for the procurement of pipes totalling 150 kilometres for the extension of the pipe replacement programme to other areas in greater Harare.

Masunda said leakages were no longer that common in the city centre following a similar programme financed at US$17,1 million three years ago.

"Another priority area is to eliminate non-revenue water which is water which is stolen or gets lost along the way," Masunda said. "A lot of consumers are not being billed so we are busy replacing meters which do not work and also intend to install new ones so that every water point has a meter for proper billing."

In a document on the status of Harare water dated January 2013, the city's director of water, Christopher Zvobgo indicated that losses accounted for 40% of Harare's treated water.

He said there were about 70 000 unregistered connections in the city while 50% of customer meters are not working.

Masunda said Harare should be like Ethekwini where 98% of consumers paid for their water.

Ethekwini, which serves 4,2 million people, produces 850 megalitres of water per day, compared to Harare's 620 megalitres per day.

Harare caters for a population of just above two million including residents of Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Epworth.

Masunda said he was counting on council debtors especially government ministries and departments, which owed the city a total of US$66 million.

"Of that amount, we need US$16 million immediately for us to be able to do these projects," he said.

Harare's total water budget for 2013 stands at US$52 million.

For a couple of years now, most suburbs in Harare have not been getting clean running water. This has contributed significantly to the outbreak of water-borne diseases in the city.

Over 4 000 people have died in Harare since 2008 following the outbreak of cholera, typhoid and dysentery.

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