As water shortages loom, Byo residents call for speedy completion of Gwayi-Shangani dam

Bulawayo residents have called for the speedy completion of the Gwayi-Shangani dam to end the perennial water woes in Bulawayo.

This follows a recent announcement by the Bulawayo City Council ( BCC) that it is reintroducing the 24-hour water-shedding programme.

The situation is likely to worsen with the city set to decommission two of its supply dams, Umzingwane and Upper Ncema.

In separate interviews, residents expressed concern over the unending water challenges.

“It’s sad news to us residents as we have seen the bad side of this water-shedding. We have heard that some people lost their lives due to water-shedding but at the same time there is nothing that can be done since we did not receive adequate rain last year,” said Nesisa Ndlovu a resident from Nkulumane.

She said there is a need for the local authority to fix malfunctioning boreholes so they can have alternative water sources.

Another resident said they are worried as winter is associated with a peak in Covid-19 infections.

“The water-shedding has come at a very difficult time, especially with schools still open. As we have seen from previous times, young children are more active in fetching water, in turn, they’ll be exposed to the cold while going to fetch water in various water sources, exposing them to possible COVID infections,” said Onesimo Ndlovu from Mzilikazi suburb.

In addition, Ishmael Mkandla from Luveve said he hopes the Gwayi-Shangani dam project will be completed on time.

“What I can say is that the move comes as no surprise to us the residents of Bulawayo, it is now like a ritual that every year we have to experience water-shedding whether we received good or bad rains.

“I hope the Gwayi-Shangani dam will be completed as promised and hopefully this is the last year to experience such,” said Mkandla.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), Secretary for Administration, Thembelani Dube said they have noted with dismay the return of the dreaded water-shedding programme.

“We urge the speedy completion of the Gwayi-Shangani lake and pipeline for Bulawayo to have a lasting solution to the perennial water woes. The six dams supplying water to Bulawayo can no longer cope as the city has experienced exponential population growth since independence, on the contrary, the supply sources have remained at a constant,” said Dube.

He said the 24hr water-shedding, is a violation of section 77 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“Bulawayo City Council must strictly adhere to the publicized schedule,” said Dube.

Section 77 of the Constitution states that every person has the right to clean water and sufficient food.

However, according to the recent Council report if the future water and supplies and water action committee on the status of water resources, the Acting Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Sikhumbuzo Ncube said the contractors at the Gwayi-Shangani project were working night shifts with expectations that Bulawayo will receive water  by December 2022.

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