War over potable water in Mutare

MUTARE — Irate Dangamvura and Chikanga residents who have endured years of dry water taps have threatened to stage demonstrations and to boycott paying council water bills in protest against the non-completion of the Chikanga-Dangamvura water project.

Residents said they were angry that the project which began in 1996, had showed no meaningful development up to now with no improvement in water supplies in the two high-density suburbs.

The residents said council should expedite the completion of the water rehabilitation project as they had endured years without access to clean water despite being levied water and service charges every month.

“We will boycott paying rates unless the situation is addressed,” said one resident.

Cases of suspected diarrhoea have been reported in the suburbs while some residents have resorted to using the bush system because of water challenges.

“We know that this is a serious health hazard, but, we do not have any option at all but to use the bush,” said Jonathan Mukanga a resident of Chikanga.

Faina Maposa from Dangamvura said residents sometimes woke up at midnight to look for water while those with vehicles brought water from their work places in the city centre.

Some property owners in the city and low-density areas where there is constant water supply are now reportedly selling the commodity. A 200-litre drum full of water is being sold for US$10.

The Dangamvura water project stalled when council was allegedly defrauded of US$330 000 meant for water supply pipes. Several senior council employees were implicated in the botched water pipes deal that saw council being duped by a briefcase company.

The water pipes deal also sucked in former councillor Xavier Upare who was fired by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo over his alleged involvement in the matter as chairperson of the procurement committee.

City Engineer Donald Nyatoti said the city needed about US$800 000 to complete the water project.

“As council we have failed to meet our projected deadline of finishing the water augmentation programme, which had been set for end of July last year,” he said.” We hope that our budget will channel more funds to repairs and purchasing of new pipes for the new project.”

Nyatoti said there was need to install specialised high pressure pipes stretching several kilometers from the Christmas Pass Water Works to Dangamvura.

Mutare Mayor Tatenda Nhamarare said it was unfortunate that some residents had resorted to boycotting paying their bills. He said council would divert funds from the Estates Account to help complete the water project.

“I want to appeal to the residents to pay up their bills so that we have enough money to complete the project,” added Nhamarare.
He was hopeful that by September, the project would have been completed.

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