20 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Council Gets U.S.$80 Million to Rehabilitate Water System

HARARE City Council has negotiated a US$80 million loan with a Chinese bank to overhaul water treatment plants and replace ageing pipes to ensure at least 80 percent of the city receives constant supplies. Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi said they would use the money to acquire pressure-reducing valves to reduce pipe bursts.

"Water leaks are a major issue that the city is addressing. We have an average of 235 water pipe bursts every day. That is massive.

"The reaction time becomes longer simply because the bursts are too many."

Dr Mahachi said this while giving oral evidence before a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Welfare on what the city was doing to address the water and sanitation situation.

"We have negotiated with Chinese Eximbank for a US$80 million loan facility. We want to replace our pumps, some of them as old as 60 years," he said.

"We want to acquire pressure-reducing valves and with that we will have less pipe bursts. We want to replace some targeted pipes and that would cost us US$14 million. Once we do that, we will have about 80 percent of people having water all the time."

Dr Mahachi said council engineers and those from Beijing would soon meet to thrash out finer details of the loan facility.

Legislators complained over the lack of provision of water to residents, saying that posed a health risk.

Glen View MP Mr Fani Munengami (MDC-T) said areas like his constituency received water once per day at midnight, a situation he said was untenable.

Kadoma MP Mrs Editor Matamisa (MDC-T) queried the safety of Harare's water.

Dr Mahachi said it was critical to note that Harare's water infrastructure was designed to serve about 350 000 residents.

The infrastructure, he said, was now serving about four million people including those in Norton, Chitungwiza and Ruwa.

Harare water, said Dr Mahachi, despite it being recycled, was safe and met the World Health Organisation standards.

"A number of people now don't want to drink the water when they are told that it is recycled water yet they have been drinking it for years without any problem," he said.

The use of recycled water is not peculiar to Harare alone as many countries like Germany are doing the same.

Dr Mahachi was accompanied by director of Harare Water Engineer Christopher Zvobgo and director of health services Dr Prosper Chonzi.

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