Zimbabwe: Stolen Chemicals Affect City Water Supplies

The theft of essential water treatment chemicals at Morton Jaffray Waterworks by four suspected council workers is partly to blame for the acute water supply shortages in Harare over the past few days.

Recently, The Herald exposed the theft of 135kg of high test hypochlorite (HTH) last month, at a time Harare City was complaining about shortages of water treatment chemicals.

The stolen chemicals were enough to purify 42 mega litres and that has exposed issues around possible lack of accountability at Harare City.

Daily demand for water in Harare is 1 200 mega litres, but Harare is pumping an average of 259 mega litres.

Morton Jaffray has an installed capacity of 700 mega litres.

A weekly report posted on Harare City Council's social media platforms on Tuesday revealed that water supply levels had dwindled in the past week due to shortages of treatment chemicals.

"Average weekly production is at 258,78 mega litres per day and production on May 15 was affected by chemical shortages at the plant," said Harare City.

Harare mayor councillor Herbert Gomba yesterday said investigations on the theft of water treatment chemicals were underway.

Community Water Alliance director, Hardlife Mudzingwa, told The Herald that water shortages were as a result of a combination of council's internal and external forces.

"Harare has got a water treatment storage facility at Morton Jaffray that can cater for around three months, but its local supplier is providing chemicals lasting only a day. That is done even in the context where Government has provided funds for the purchase of the chemicals," he said.

"There are also governance issues that relate to trying to deal with corruption and reducing theft by suspected council officials as reported in the press."

Council has been advised to adapt to new technologies that reduce the quantity of chemicals to two or three, which is fundamental in trying to address the problems at hand.

Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba said the local authority needed to be more transparent and accountable in water provision.

"Most suburbs do not have water, and the residents are concerned. The council is overwhelmed, and there is no hope that they will one day be able to provide water to the ratepayers.

"Our experience is that there is massive corruption in the procurement and storage of water treatment chemicals, and there is no monitoring of usage of the chemicals."

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