Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo has told Parliament that the government is ready to assist local authorities with funding to rehabilitate their water and sewerage systems.
Local authorities, Bulawayo included, are struggling to maintain their water and sewer systems which often collapse exposing residents to risk of contracting water borne diseases.
Bulawayo is struggling to contain a diarrhoea outbreak which is believed to have been triggered by contaminated tap water.
The outbreak claimed 13 lives and affected over 1800 residents in Luveve suburb.
Currently, the municipality is implementing major rehabilitation works under the Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (BWSSIP) funded by the African Development Bank.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Minister Moyo noted that most local authorities now have dilapidated and unworkable sewer systems and the Government intends to recapitalise them.
Minister Moyo said although the law empowers local authorities, particularly municipalities and town councils to be responsible for the construction, reconstruction and maintenance of sewer lines, most of them are in a dire state.
“The breakdowns of the water and sewer mains are so frequent and the lack of maintenance by some of the councils have also exacerbated the situation that we are in. We have reached a point whereby in most of our analysis, we send consulting engineers outside the engineers of those local authorities,” said Minister Moyo.
“There is now need for injection of capital expenditure in order to revive those sewer systems especially the main lines. Thereafter, we hope that the rates and sewerage charges that the local authorities will be charging to the beneficiaries will be able to have enough money to give maintenance for those.”
Minister Moyo explained that this initiative is a shared responsibility by the central government and local authorities but the latter will still retain the responsibility for maintaining their sewer and water systems.
“A lot of the local authorities’ sewerage and water needs a capital injection. That is why the policy that the President has taken is to assist local authorities in the upgrading of water mains as well as sewerage mains,” he explained.
“Therefore, we take this responsibility as a shared responsibility between Government and the local authorities but the maintenance of those, even though the construction is also theirs, has to be done by the local authorities.”