Just a few years ago, we were being told that the $144 million loan facility obtained from China for the rehabilitation of Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant will work miracles for water supply in Harare.But the story we published in our edition yesterday that the city now needs another $1,6 billion to solve the water supply problems took us back to square one. In fact, our story quoting Harare water director Engineer Hosiah Chisango made an interesting read.
While the $1,6 billion can be a good move for forward planning, especially with the city set to expand, the revelation brought up fresh questions on when the water problems hounding the city will come to an end.
We are being told that even with the completion of the rehabilitation of Morton Jaffray, $670 million is still required for the upgrade of pipelines, pump stations and reservoirs.
With the controversy that surrounded the $144 million loan facility from China, residents are left wondering how the city will raise the new figures for water reticulation.
There were allegations of corruption, which heightened after city authorities decided to use a chunk of that money to purchase 25 luxury vehicles for use in work related to the project.
But since then, residents are still faced with acute shortages of water, years after the rehabilitation of Morton Jaffray started. We believe that before the city authorities start talking about the new figure of $1,6 billion for Harare water, a comprehensive audit of the $144 million loan facility should be carried out.
The probe should look at what the loan was supposed to achieve, what it has achieved so far and if the goals set in the agreement will be met.
Such an audit will be good for the city council as it will restore confidence in residents that the money they pay in rates is being put to good use.
We often wonder why the city authorities prioritised Morton Jaffray, without considering the upgrading of other facilities like Warren Control pump station and Letombo reservoir.
This was a big mistake since the smaller water stations and pipes are expected to absorb the increased pressure of water from a rejuvenated Morton Jaffray.
The problem should have been looked at holistically, instead of having piecemeal solutions.
We note that Harare residents have suffered long enough when it comes to shortages of water and we hope the city authorities will move fast in whatever project they will embark on next after Morton Jaffray.
We are fully aware that the problems of water supply in Harare have been with us for a long time, even before independence in 1980. The takeover of water supply in cities like Harare by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority some years back did not also yield the desired results.
In that light, we urge Government and the city council to work together to ensure a quick solution is found to the water supply difficulties.
This can include the fast track construction of additional dams like Kunzvi, Musami and Muda, which have been on the cards for a long time, but being touted as part of the solution.