Water Barons Cash in On Desperation

Water barons selling water in Chitungwiza have more than doubled prices, as MDC Alliance- run Chitungwiza Municipality is struggling to give residents reliable supplies.

The prices vary per 20-litre bucket, depending on the quality of water and area of accessibility at various spots including houses, open spaces, shopping centres and industrial sites.

In Unit A, borehole water, which was being sold in the range of $5 to $10 per bucket in the recent past is now going for between $15 and $20, while water from other sources, which was $5 is now $10.

On average, a family of five that uses a minimum of 20 buckets a day now requires at least $200 for water daily and $6 000 monthly, calculations reveal.

The development comes at a time the country is battling Covid-19, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and infected millions across the globe.

Acting Chitungwiza town clerk Dr Tonderai Kasu said they recently completed the drilling of 25 community boreholes, one for each ward, as a way of mitigating the water shortages using devolution funds.

Dr Kasu said 25 more boreholes were on the cards to double their numbers in the wards while eight institutional boreholes would be motorised. “As Chitungwiza, we are a local authority, we are not a water authority, we are dependent on the City of Harare for supplies of treated water,” he said.

“Given that supplies of water from City of Harare to Chitungwiza have been erratic, it is, therefore, important to appreciate that some of the challenges with respect to water supply in Chitungwiza have been beyond our control.”

Dr Kasu said construction of Muda Dam would be the long term solution.

Community Water Alliance (CWA) director Mr Hardlife Mudzingwa yesterday said water barons were partly to blame as they had assumed the role of water committees.

“The menace is emanating from water barons even from the few public water points that are operating in Chitungwiza,” he said.

“We have a serious case of water barons some of whom are politically connected and are abusing their political connectedness to do their crude acts.”

Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association secretary-general Mr Gift Kupurati said the water issue was now a disaster and they were pinning hopes on the Government to speed up the Muda Dam project.

Chitungwiza Residents Trust director Ms Alice Kuveya said instead of blaming water barons, council was at fault as it was supposed to be supplying tapped, potable and safe water.

“The court order is saying council should provide us water, but they are doing nothing? We demand water from the council,” she said.

“They should be doing something instead of relying on Harare. We need our own source of water as soon as possible.”

Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural Residents Association acting director Mr Brighton Kanyama said council should increase the number of boreholes.

“It should provide water bowsers to the areas that are not receiving water since council is billing water to residents,” he said.

Chitungwiza has always bought bulk water from Harare and has no dams and or a water treatment plant of its own.

The cut back in Harare water treatment has seen supplies to Chitungwiza slashed.

The council, like Harare, has drilled a handful of boreholes, but the number is inadequate.

At public boreholes, chaos continues to reign supreme as unscrupulous people have moved in, controlling queues and charging people a once-off “joining fee” of $20 to access the public water.

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