United Refineries closure: Amanzi Trust calls for an urgent water solution

The Alliance of Matebeleland and Zambezi Initiative Trust (Amanzi Trust) has called upon all stakeholders to put heads together and urgently solve Bulawayo’s water challenges following the temporary closure of one of the city’s biggest firms due to water shortages.

The Bulawayo-based household products producer, United Refineries Limited (URL) recently suspended operations due to an acute water crisis ravaging the country’s second largest city, prompting the Amanzi Trust to call for all stakeholders to act fast and solve the city’s water crisis.

“We, as Amanzi Trust, are saddened by the continued closure of our once powerful industrial and manufacturing companies due to water shortages.  This is lamentable because it is a situation whose solution was identified more than one hundred years ago, and yet even up today the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) has not been implemented,” the trust’ chairman Sanpoulus Maplanka, said.

Amanzi Trust was formed recently by Bulawayo residents to assist the government complete the MZWP, regarded as the long-term solution to the city’s water crisis.

“We cannot entirely blame anyone government or authority for the non-implementation of this program. Even Rhodesia failed to implement it for over 60 years. Basically there was no will to do so,” he said.  

“It is in this vein of thinking, that we feel that it is the responsibility of the community to put our heads together and come up with solutions of how to quickly implement this program, and to do it with the urgency that it clearly deserves. Clearly our city is dying and we are idle and doing nothing about it.”

Maplanka said this was the reason why they have said membership to Amanzi Trust is free for anyone in the region who needs to come and be part of them, not only to share ideas but also to come out with viable and implementable solutions. 

“No one must be left out because even the most unlikely person might come up with good ideas to a big problem. This is a problem that faces the community, and therefore it must be the community that finds the solution. As long as we want to rely on other people to solve our problems, we will get nowhere,” he said.  

“We need to approach this problem on a nonpolitical, non-religion, and non-tribal platform because everybody is affected by this severe shortage of water. We are grateful of what the city council and government through Zinwa (Zimbabwe National Water Authority) are doing to address the situation. We acknowledge the wonderful work that is being done at the Gwayi/Shangani Dam.” 

He, however, said the situation was rapidly deteriorating and hence the need for the community to work closely with these authorities in an open and progressive way, to find a quick and lasting solution.

“We have the ability to put this pipeline in a very short while. We have world renowned engineers and we have local materials that can build this pipe quickly as soon as we deal with the red tape,” he said. 

Maplanka said people should not lose focus because of the rains as they will only bring temporary relief. 

“There is no other solution for Bulawayo except the Zambezi pipeline. Some of our engineers have suggested that it is possible to finish the pipe in 6 months if the funding, the will and authority to build is given,” he said.

He said the onus to serve Bulawayo lies with all people. 

“We have the ability help those in authority to help us. So let us come together for a lasting solution,” Maplanka said.

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