Chiredzi town has been hit by a crippling water shortage after water conveyancing pipes at the treatment plant burst. The shortages have resulted in the emergence of a black market. It now costs $1 to buy five buckets of water in some areas. Most suburbs have been without running water since Monday and council attributed the problem to burst pipes.
Town engineer Mr Wesly Kauma yesterday said all the town's storage tanks had been emptied to allow the damaged pipes to be repaired.
"We have been busy trying to reconnect the water conveyancing pipes for the greater part of this week and we ended up draining all the water from the storage tanks because it was impossible to fix the pipes with water inside the tanks," he said.
"Once the burst pipes have been repaired we expect the water supply situation to improve, the problem is at the pipes that draw water from the treatment plant." Mr Kauma said Chiredzi was perennially blighted by water shortages caused by leakages, which required the town to overhaul the water conveyancing systems to curb loses.
"Our team is working flat out to address this problem. We really understand how critical water is to the residents and that is why we are frantically trying to fix the fault," he said. Chiredzi Residents and Rate Payers Association chairperson Mr Jonathan Muusha rapped council for failing to update residents on the water situation.
He said council should have dispatched water bowsers to the town's suburbs to mitigate the crisis. "Residents are unhappy because only a few suburbs are getting water supplies.
"The dire water situation is forcing desperate residents to buy water on the black market being sold by those from the few areas that have running taps. Desperate residents are buying five buckets of water for a dollar," said Mr Muusha.
Residents fear that if the water woes persist, Chiredzi might be hit by an outbreak of diseases such as typhoid and cholera. Chiredzi has since signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) to upgrade the city's water conveyancing system and meet rising demand caused by a population boom.