By Tinashe Mungazi
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) says it was forced to disconnect water supplies to residents in Binga following failure by the Binga Rural District Council (BRDC) to remit payments resulting in the accumulation of a ZWL1.2 million debt.
Some of the residents who pay their water bills to Council who in turn pay the water authority have been without water for the past 3 weeks.
ZINWA Corporate Communications and Marketing manager, Marjorie Munyonga said the water authority was forced to act with a heavy hand to force council to honour its debt which she argued was crippling effective service delivery.
She said following an outcry from residents, the two authorities were engaging in an effort to find common ground to alleviate the current impasse.
“ZINWA and the council are currently engaged in discussions on the resolution of the matter and help alleviate the plight of the residents who access their water through bulk meters. ZINWA reiterates that water users need to settle their water bills on time as that is the only way to guarantee service delivery. For ZINWA to efficiently and sustainably provide service, it needs resources for the maintenance of equipment, procurement of water treatment chemical stocks, fuels and electricity, which can only take place when users pay their bills.”
According to the vice chairperson of Binga Residents Association, Samson Sibanda ,some of the 150 affected households have resorted to fetching water from the crocodile infested Zambezi river.
“The 50 households which are affected now risk their lives by walking 5km to the river which has crocodiles. We have tried as residents to engage ZINWA and council to resolve this issue but without success. Both authorities seem to be playing a hide and seek game with residents as none is taking responsibility. So we have approached the DDC to assist in organising a stakeholders meeting with concerned parties to find a solution.”
The town has been experiencing a recurring water crisis emanating from frequent power cuts which affect water distribution as there is no standby generator.
Residents argue that the unavailability of water is not only exposing them to waterborne diseases but Covid-19 as people are not able to adhere to regulations that include washing of hands.
BRDC chief executive officer, Joshua Muzamba confirmed the development but refused to shed details arguing that he was attending a funeral.
“Yes there is something like that but I cannot comment at the moment I’m out of town attending to a funeral. You can get in touch with the Social services officer,” he said before hanging up.
Meanwhile, ZINWA has attributed the water crisis bedevilling Dete residents to power challenges after some electricity poles collapsed following the heavy rains received in Hwange district recently.
“The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) is aware of the water challenges that are being experienced in Dete. The disruption of water supplies in Dete is a result of power challenges in the area following the collapse of one of the electricity poles which the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution and Transmission Company, are working on replacing. Due to that fault, ZINWA is unable to treat and pump water to the residents and hopes that the fault is resolved within the shortest possible time so that water supplies can resume.”
Residents have gone for more than two weeks without water forcing many to walk several kilometres in search of the precious liquid.
Dete ward councillor Stanley Torima appealed to authorities to act quickly in restoring water supplies arguing that the crisis was a health time bomb in the face of Covid 19.
“The situation of water is bad and as long as it remains like this it poses a health risk especially with Covid 19 still with us. We have been having this problem for a long time now. We have a problem at the water loop, sometimes because of rains, power cuts become frequent resulting in loss of pressure to supply. So you will find that most of the time we have no power which affects pumping,” he said.
Some residents said they were walking long distances to nearby lodges and NRZ offices to access water.
“We are in serious trouble there has not been any alternative from any of the authorities so we are forced to seek other means from companies that have boreholes. The closest borehole belonging to Dete Ceramics gets overwhelmed as the whole neighbourhood comes there,” said Martha Ndlovu.