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Chinhoyi town faces acute water challenges

Chinhoyi-council

Chinhoyi (New Ziana) -Chinhoyi town, a sprawling Mashonaland West provincial capital, has been facing acute water challenges for the past few decades without solutions in sight, residents say,

Basic services and infrastructure development are key to sustainable urban development. Residents of this agricultural town strongly believe the water challenges won’t go away as numerous strategies to solve them have been put in place, but to no avail. Residents have had to grapple with the challenges for days, weeks and even months, without access to the life-saving commodity.Cities often fail to cater for the needs of their growing populations, in particular water, sewer and housing.

From Chinhoyi town’s daily demand of 40 megalitres, it is estimated that the municipality only manages to supply 22 megalitres. The mismatch between service delivery demand and supply in the town makes it lag behind.

Ben Magomo, a resident from Gunhill high density suburb says the area had only received water in two days in the past week and the water is available at midnight, around 3.30 AM.

‘’It’s only accessible for two hours, ‘’ Magomo, who does not have enough containers to store water enough for five days, says, adding that he is now prioritizing water for drinking and cooking.

Magomo has no choice and is forced to go to the nearby Hunyani River for his laundry and wait for the clothes to dry.

“It’s like we’re living in the rural areas in addition to fears of water-borne diseases such as cholera.
He also highlighted the poor water quality which has a lot of sediments that settle at the bottom and people are now forced to buy mineral water but still getting high water bills.

Willard Dzomba, another resident says, “The water situation is currently pathetic especially in the southwestern suburbs of Ruvimbo, Rujeko, White City and St Ives.”

To mitigate the problem, he suggested establishing water centres as a stop-gap measure as the council is not making any effort to provide water to areas that need it most.

In Chinhoyi, water is becoming more precious than gold.

Water is life, it is an important component in people’s daily lives and the provision of clean, safe potable water, is one of the numerous inalienable rights. However, this has not been the case for millions of urban dwellers in the country’s cities and towns who struggle daily to access reliable and clean water for household and industrial purposes.

Dzomba says, “Council must install solar powered boreholes which are connected to over-head storage tanks. These should be dotted in the various wards and should be accessible everyday”

Though council has budgeted for the sinking of boreholes this year, it’s now four months into the year but no single borehole has been drilled. The town has however, seen a proliferation of illegally drilled boreholes in unsuitable areas by residents.

Gift Dondo another resident is not convinced that the water crisis is genuine and noted that many of the issues must be thoroughly investigated as electricity is always available in the area where the treatment plants are housed as claimed by council.

‘’In Chinhoyi, we should have water access every day,” says Dondo adding that apart from electricity, the council does not have any other excuses.

The town depended on the old water works behind Chinhoyi Primary School before it was augmented by the current water works at Hunyani. In 1996, its first phase catering for a population of 35 000 people, was supposed to be expanded to phase 2, 3 and 4. Chinhoyi, with a current population of 91,000 people, continue to groan from the debilitating effects of water challenges, Even worse, the town has added residential areas, such as Ruvimbo phase I and 2, White City, Rusununguko, Garikai, St Ives, Rujeko, Mzari Extension, Mapako phase I, phase 2, and Brundish, but this has not corresponded with an upgraded water treatment plant.

Chinhoyi Municipality Spokesperson, Tichaona Mlauzi, says while not defending the water situation in the town, there were plans for the expansion of the water treatment plant. The teething problem remains lack of financiers to undertake the water upgrading exercise.

“Yes, plans to expand the water works have been in place for quite a long time now. Unfortunately, we have not had any takers. At one point we had 23 institutions which had shown interest in our tender but when we came to call for an expression of interest, they did not take up the offer as they still believed that the water in Chinhoyi was very cheap and it would not make any business sense to them. We haven’t managed to lure any partners at all to enter into public-private partnerships to expand our water works in Chinhoyi.”

To lure investors, Felix Mbundi, a resident suggested that the council should have profitable water charges and introduce pre-paid water meters which he noted, are in sync with the country’s informalised economy.

He challenged the council to convince Government that Chinhoyi was an important town in the country’s national development agenda and ensured that they got funding for the water works expansion.
The water augmentation project needs US$20 million which will ensure the town gets 40 megalitres per day.

This year council will channel the bulk of the $1.4billion (Zimbabwean dollars) devolution funds earmarked for the town towards water augmentation which is $1.3billion (Zimbabwean dollars) as it has prioritized only $108m (Zimbabwean dollars) for ICT.

The council recently attributed the current crippling load shedding schedule as to the reason why the town is facing a severe water shortage exacerbating the existing water challenges.

However the Zimbabwe National Organizations of Associations and Residents Trusts (ZNOART) Mashonaland West Chairperson Liberty Chitiya refuted the claims by council that the water challenges in the town were a result of the electricity load shedding saying the issue of water challenges in Chinhoyi is council failure in service delivery.

Despite the water challenges facing Chinhoyi, there is huge potential for sustained growth through maximizing local opportunities, including industrial capability, supporting the informal sector, promoting mixed-use development, and empowering the local authority.

Source: New Ziana

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