Glass Block dam will not come cheap: Mayor

Bulawayo Mayor David Coltart says the city council must develop the capacity to receive and distribute water from the Glass Block Dam before an agreement can be reached.

Cllr Coltart addressed the Full Council Meeting held on Wednesday at the council chambers.

The Glass Block Dam, proposed to be built in Filabusi by a team of engineers, will have the capacity to provide 70 percent of the water consumed by the entire city.

Progress on the project is ongoing as the city council is still engaging various stakeholders.

According to the council, the construction of the dam, which will take approximately 24 months, will be fully funded by the engineers.

“Before the city can embark on the construction of the Glass Block Dam, there is a need to make provisions for the cost of handling the water that comes from the dam. The funders are going to cater for construction costs and pipelines. As the local authority, we need to play our part by ensuring that we are ready to receive that water,” Cllr Coltart said.

“The dam has the potential to supply 70 percent of the water capacity needed in the city. We must, therefore, have the capacity to treat the water before it is supplied to the residents. The engineering department, therefore, has a task to compile all the data pertaining to how much it will cost to treat the water and supply it to the residents. Already we have challenges with electricity, and some of our pipelines are not working properly. These are some of the things we need to consider before this project can proceed.”

Cllr Coltart was responding to Ward 3 Cllr Mxolisi Mahlangu who had inquired about the delay in giving the project the green light.

“Your Worship, we have funders who are ready to fund the Glass Block Dam, but why are we still talking about sitting down as committees and discussing this issue? Why are we still talking about documentation when the city is in such a crisis?” inquired Cllr Mahlangu.

Some councillors noted that while the city comes up with more permanent solutions, there is a need to have immediate solutions that will give relief to the affected residents.

Ward 9 Cllr Donaldson Mabuto argued that while the city will be seized with the construction of the Glass Block Dam, there is a need to have immediate solutions to address the water crisis.

“The Glass Block Dam is two years away, yet residents need water now. We need something more immediate to assist our residents. According to the proposal, that dam will take 24 months to complete, how will our residents be getting by then?” Cllr Mabuto queried.

“Your Worship, I think the best thing we must do is to push the government to declare Bulawayo a water crisis city. Their resistance is a ploy to make people doubt our capabilities as a council. If the ministers that we have been engaging since long back are not taking action, let us engage the President himself. He (the President) has a mandate to ensure that we all have access to safe and clean water as per the provisions of the Constitution.”

Ward 26 Cllr Mpumelelo Moyo also noted that the scarcity of water in Bulawayo must be treated with the urgency it deserves.

“We need to treat this matter with urgency, Your Worship. Residents are having a hard time getting water. Bulawayo is now one of the least productive cities because people spend their productive time in queues,” he said.

“Right now, it is difficult to explain to the people that there is no water because we do not have any solutions for the situation. Just a few days ago, some angry residents stormed into my yard and destroyed my Jojo tank. They accused me of not taking their plight seriously because I have an alternative source of water. Right now, my Jojo tank is leaking.”

In response, Cllr Coltart said the local authority was already engaged with the government, and efforts were being made to push the government to render the necessary assistance to the people of Bulawayo.

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