Zimbabwe: 'Morton Jaffray Can No Longer Meet Harare's Water Needs'

Morton Jaffary Water Treatment Plant has no capacity to supply water to Harare residents since it was built for a population of 300 000 as compared to the 1,5 million people currently living in Harare.

This was said by the Chinese company CMEC contracted to work on the rehabilitation of the Morton Jaffray waterworks in an interview with The Herald yesterday.

CMEC Mr Cao Yang, project executive director, revealed that solving the water problem of the City of Harare was a complex issue that required different corrective measures to be taken.

"The Morton Jaffary water plant was built more than 60 years ago to meet the water demands of the city of 300 000 to 400 000 population at that time. However, due to urbanisation the population of the city has considerably increased and even if Morton Jaffray was working at full capacity it would still not be able to meet the current water demands of the city," he said.

"Solving the water problem of the City of Harare is a very complex issue that requires many different corrective measures to be taken. This project was not intended to solve the entire water issue for the City of Harare but simply to replace the old equipment of Morton Jaffray and other existing old stations so that they can be restored to working order for the next 20-30 years," he said

Most suburbs in Harare have gone for more than six months without water owing to rationing measures that council introduced to allow for the completion of the upgrading of the plant, some 30 kilometres from Harare on the Harare-Bulawayo highway.

"The City of Harare lacks funds and foreign currency to purchase water treatment chemicals and thus Morton Jaffray water plant cannot operate at full capacity as it can only produce about 100 000 tonnes of water per day,"

"Due to the shutdown of Prince Edward water plant because of the drought, the water produced by Morton Jaffray needs to be supplied to Chitungwiza and other areas too which were supposed to be covered by Prince Edward water plant," he added

"The water pipes from the Morton Jaffray water plant to the pumping stations in the City of Harare are old and corroded resulting in leakages and loss of water in the supply chain. Lake Chivero has been heavily polluted and a solution to this problem is a matter of urgency," said Mr Yang.

Pollution at Lake Chivero has pushed the cost of chemicals as more treatment chemicals would be required thereby increasing the strain in costs to City of Harare.

"A big risk exists if we leave the lake unprotected from dumping of any poisonous substances making the situation very dangerous," he said.

Mr Yang also said the issue of clean water in Harare is an emergency priority hence there must be a collective unity of purpose from all stakeholders to avoid a health disaster which he said was already looming adding that the Warren control pump station also needed urgent attention.

"I would also like to emphasise that the outstanding works in Warren Control pump station cannot be completed due to the shortage of funds. Warren Control pump station has significantly depreciated and is now obsolete and broken down. This causes a high risk on its usage as it may collapse at any time. Taking this into account, rehabilitation work at Warren control pump station is of utmost importance to avoid any looming disaster. Clearly, a collapse of Warren control will be a catastrophe for greater Harare, due to water shortages in the whole city," he said.

Among the hardest hit suburbs are Chitungwiza, Warren Park, Hatfield, Nnfield, Tafara, Mabvuku, Kuwadzana and Budiriro. The crisis has driven residents to resort to few boreholes and unprotected wells which posed a public health risk.

CMEC has had a presence in Zimbabwe since 2007, and to date the company has implemented three livelihood projects in the agriculture, water and health sectors with a total value of US$443 million.

In 2010 an agreement was signed for the development and rehabilitation of municipal water works for the City of Harare valued at US$144 million for rehabilitation of Morton Jaffray water plant, Warren Control pump station, New Alex Park and Alex Park pump station, Letombo pump station, Firle sewage plant, Crowborough sewage plant, Borrowdale sewage distribution pump stations and supply of laboratory equipment, water treatment chemicals, valves, ICT equipment, construction equipment, etc. In addition, another agreement was signed with the Ministry of Health and Child Care for the supply of medical equipment. Both projects commenced in 2013.

Speaking soon after the familiarisation tour of Morton Jaffray water treatment plant, Crowborough and Firle sewage waterworks, recently Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan Province Cde Oliver Chidawu said that the water situation in Harare needed urgent attention.

"The situation is dire. It needs urgent attention. As you can see, 80 percent of raw sewage is flowing into the lake.

"We need to manage the authorities as a ministry so that people will get the best from the council," he said.

He also emphasised the need to treat water for human consumption.

"Water coming out of the pumps is very dirty and it needs (chemical) treatment (to make it potable)

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