SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Harare Residents Criticise Council Water Failures

The long-suffering residents of Harare have expressed dismay at the failure by the local authority to provide them with clean water.

All the suburbs in the city had no water over the weekend after the Harare City Council shut down supplies, citing leakages on the transmission mains from Morton Jaffray to Warren Control Pump Station.

Council spokesperson Leslie Gwindi indicated that services had been restored to most areas by Monday afternoon, although he could not disclose which suburbs were yet to be connected.

He said he does not give interviews to radio stations.

While welcoming the restoration of services to some areas, representatives of Harare residents said they are not holding their breaths regarding consistent water supply. They accused the council of lacking a clear strategy of addressing the city's perennial water problems.

Simbarashe Moyo, chairman of the Combined Harare Residents Association, said he was deeply concerned about the inconsistent and inefficient manner in which the local authority was handling water provision.

He also criticised the council's poor communication, saying residents are not notified in time about impending disconnections to enable them to prepare.

"We only get to know we have been disconnected when we no longer have water," he said.

Moyo said this was placing a huge burden on residents, particularly on women who have to endure walking long distances and standing in long queues in search of water. Some of them often resort to fetching water from unprotected sources.

"This is a health hazard for residents. We talk about outbreaks of diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid, but these a result of the challenges that we are facing, which are that the service provider is failing to provide adequate water to rate payers," Moyo said.

In 2012, at least five people were confirmed to have died from typhoid in Harare's Glen View suburb. In 2010, more than 4,000 people died following a countrywide cholera outbreak. Both health crises were blamed on a lack of clean water and the collapse of Zimbabwe's sanitation system.

Harare Residents' Trust director Precious Shumba expressed similar concerns, adding that the recurrent problems show that the council does not have any long-term strategy of addressing the water crisis in Harare.

Shumba also revealed that some residents, particularly in the northern suburbs, who have at times gone for more than a month without water, have been shocked to receive huge bills even for periods when they had no supplies.

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