BCC consults engineers on Bulawayo water crisis

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has informed disgruntled residents who had requested the local authority address the perennial water crisis in seven days that it was consulting with its engineers to develop a comprehensive response to their grievances.

In February, residents in Bulawayo set a one-week deadline for BCC to resolve the ongoing water crisis and that the government declares the water issue both a disaster and the city a water shortage area. 

The residents were represented by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), who engaged the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to communicate with BCC.

According to ZLHR, BCC responded via its Chamber Secretary, Sikhangele Zhou, who said the local authority was currently consulting its engineers to formulate a response to their grievances.

“In response to the residents’ letter, the Chamber Secretary for the City of Bulawayo, Sikhangele Zhou, told (ZLHR lawyers) Prisca Dube and Jabulani Mhlanga that the local authority is currently consulting its personnel employed in the Department of Engineering Services to formulate a comprehensive response, which would be furnished to the aggrieved residents,” said ZLHR in a statement.

In the letter delivered to BCC, residents complained about poor service delivery, as the local authority was implementing water rationing measures, saying it was a denial of their right to safe, clean and potable water as enshrined in Section 77(a) of the Constitution.

“BPRA lawyers – Dube and Mhlanga of ZLHR, said the residents complained that water rationing was currently at its worst in Bulawayo, with some suburbs experiencing prolonged water rationing for over three weeks,” ZLHR said.

“The water crisis, the residents said, had resulted in key critical public institutions such as medical facilities and institutions of learning without alternative water sources such as boreholes, requesting residents and students to bring water from their homes to use and this had a negative impact on proper service delivery.”

The human rights organisation said Bulawayo residents proposed that the situation in the city necessitated that it be declared as a water shortage area by Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Anxious Masuka, in terms of Section 61 of the Water Act. 

“In addition, the residents said, the perennial water crisis in Bulawayo, which is persisting at a time when the country is grappling with a cholera outbreak, warranted that a state of disaster should be declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in terms of Section 27 of the Civil Protection Act before innocent lives are lost,” ZLHR said.

“The declaration, the residents said, would allow for the necessary relief to be afforded to alleviate the local authority’s current water crisis and hopefully pave the way for a long-term solution.”

Residents had asked BCC and the relevant stakeholders, which include the government, that within seven days, provide information on the steps and measures the local authority was taking to address the current and perennial water crisis.

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