6 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Harare Water Outrage 'A Ticking Time Bomb'

Residents' associations in Harare have warned that public outrage over ongoing water problems in the city is reaching boiling point, with city authorities being urged to hurry up and deal with the issues.

Intermittent water supply and sewage issues in the capital have been recurring problems for years, and most recently several suburbs across western Harare were left without water for days because of a break down at the Warren Control Pump Station. The areas have included the densely populated Mbare suburb, as well as Glen View, Budiriro, Rugare, Sunningdale and others. Almost a week later, most of the areas are still without clean water.

Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda has promised that there will be an improved water supply soon, after meeting with South African municipal water authorities for advice.

"If everything goes according to plan, we should start seeing considerable improvement in the provision of potable water from March onwards," Masunda told the Standard newspaper.

Masunda said the city council expected to spend about US$2 million on its plan to reduce the 'pressure' on the water system, 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.

But Masunda is being criticised for taking too long to come up with solutions to the problems that have been dogging city residents for so many years. The council has been repeatedly blamed for not doing enough and residents have now said they have had enough.

The Harare Residents' Trust (HRT) said this week that locals are "sick and tired" of the situation, and are demanding changes. The Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) echoed this sentiment on Wednesday telling SW Radio Africa "the situation is a ticking time bomb."

"There is a time when people are going to rise up and say 'enough is enough' and that time is coming and it is coming fast," CHRA chairman Simbarashe Moyo warned.

He said the city authorities have failed again and again to provide clean water, and are always relying on the intervention of NGOs like UNICEF, which has in the past sunk boreholes for communities.

"We cannot keep turning to the donor community. We are done with that. The challenge must be solved by the municipality," Moyo said.

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