By Mhlomuli Ncube
The water crisis in Bulawayo keeps on taking a more extreme dimension.
In the cocktail of problems residents have to endure on a daily basis are countless stories of long queues, hoping that one day taps will run once again.
It is early hours in the morning before sunrise. The residents are already up. By the time the sun comes out, they hope to have filled their containers with the precious liquid that is getting more and more scarce.
The stories they relate are not pleasant ones. The water crisis has left them furious at the city fathers, scared of potential disease outbreaks and in a state of rage that basics such as bathing and cooking are looking more and more like luxury moments.
While the reality is that the country did not receive adequate rains, the oddest prescription has come from a town engineer who says Bulawayo needs to “pray for the water situation.”
“I think we need to pray hard because as it stands we anticipates that Mzingwane will run out in the months of October November should we not get rains so i think we need to just pray very hard that it rains otherwise we get into very serious water shedding that will be perpetual throughout 2020” said Bulawayo City Council Engineer Simela Dube.
Recently, council introduced a 96-hour water shedding schedule which at times stretches to five days or more as some residents have testified. Such a situation is just untenable, they say.
Business has also not been spared. The CZI President Mr Shepherd Chawira has lamented the water woes which he says are directly impacting on industrial production.
“As we are aware of the water situation in Bulawayo, the situation is slowing down business. Some industries cannot operate without water so if this is not solved with immediate effect some industries will have to close. Not all of them have borehole water but all i can say is that industry cannot operate without water” said CZI President Mr Shepherd Chawira.
According to the Bulawayo city council, Upper Ncema will be depleted by the end of this month while Umzingwane will run dry by October this year. Lower Ncema is expected to run dry in May next year.
Consensus is that the only long term solution to Bulawayo water woes lies in the Gwayi -Shangani dam project that has been in the pipeline for decades now.
“In terms of the current legislation the provision of the bulk water supply is by government through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and they have always talked about the Gwayi-Shangani dam project which been planned for some decades. Even though council in the meantime is assisting ZINWA in the increase of the output for the aping forest project”