Government has brushed aside a proposal by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to declare the water situation a national disaster, saying there is enough water to last up to 14 months.
With the dam levels at around 35 percent, the local authority approached the government to declare the water crisis a national disaster.
Since then the water levels have dropped to 29 percent and council has been forced to adjust the water shedding period to 144 hours a week and moved to decommission Lower Ncema Dam.
Acting on advice from independent engineers, the government said the remaining three supply dams, Mtshabezi, Insiza and Inyankuni could supply water to Bulawayo for at least nine months and if ‘properly synchronised’ can go up to 14 months.
A ministerial delegation consisting of Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, July Moyo; Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Douglas Karoro, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Clemence Chiduwa descended on Bulawayo Friday to come up with a solution to the water crisis.
The meeting held at the Small City Hall was supposed to deliberate on whether the water crisis in Bulawayo be declared a national disaster.
BCC Director of Engineering Services, Simela Dube delivered a presentation insinsting that water in Bulawayo was in short supply and rehabilitation work had to be done at the Epping Forest and Rochester in Nyamandlovu.
After him, two independent engineers, brought by Minister Moyo were called to make a second opinion on the water situation.
The first engineer, Paul Kruger said from the three remaining supply dams, Bulawayo had enough water but the challenge was pumping water to the city.
He said technical and engineering work had to be done so that water flows easily.
The second engineer, Daniel Mckenzie Ncube, who is also the Zanu PF Midlands Provincial chairperson, claimed BCC made a wrong technical decision by duplicating Mtshabezi pipeline.
He also suggested the local authority park its plans to treat sewerage water from Khami Dam.
However, after the presentations, BCC did not contest the two engineers.
After the deliberations, Minister Moyo said there was consensus Bulawayo’s water crisis needed technical solutions.
“There’s consensus that technical work has to be done as Bulawayo has not run out of water yet city council requires water. The catchment areas have not run out of water, whether it’s the aquifer or dams in Matabeleland South that supply Bulawayo. That is clear to all of us but what now remains is to work on the technical side.”
Minister Moyo said leaders now had to pronounce that Bulawayo’s challenges can be solved to give hope to residents.
“We can solve this because it can be and shall be solved technically and financially and that is what we have to mobilise now,” he said.
The local government minister noted that the ministerial delegation was yet to sit with the city engineers, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and other consultants for a way forward.
“They have to come up with an agreement on the work process and funding, whose presentation will be made to finance minister, Prof Mthuli Ncube, (expected in Bulawayo Saturday),” he said.
Meanwhile, the deputy minister of finance, assured BCC that funding would be availed to address the water situation but warned the city council to use resources effectively.
“Whenever resources are availed we would want efficient allocation of resources and usage of resources. We heard from presentations here that there’s a situation where we have one wheel and three spare wheels – I’m sure you can see that’s a problem as it shows resources are not allocated efficiently.
“Another presentation that came out is we are seeing pipes everywhere, I have historic information that some of those pipes were bought 15 years ago and it shows we are not serious when it comes to the usage of resources availed by the government. As we make a pledge and assurance of funding, let’s try make effective use of resources,” the deputy minister of finance said.