Bulawayo water crisis demands urgent attention

The Bulawayo water crisis is no longer mayor David Coltart’s issue.

THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has extended the 120-hour water rationing schedule in some parts of the city owing to reduced pumping capacity at the Ncema Dam plant where there are ongoing maintenance works.

NewsDay reported this week that maintenance works had been earmarked to have been completed by Friday last week.

In the latest extension of the water shedding schedule, industrial areas and the central business district would be spared, according to city fathers.

The situation in the country’s second largest city has not been given the attention it deserves.

Is it difficult to declare the Bulawayo water situation a state of disaster so that resources are marshalled to alleviate the crisis? Only the government has the answer.

BCC has called for such a declaration, but it has fallen on deaf ears.

A caring government whose priority programmes are all-encompassing to ensure that no one is left behind would be jolted into action by the water crisis in Zimbabwe’s second largest city. But it appears, this government is unmoved.

We do not believe that government’s inertia is meant to put the opposition in bad light. If that were to happen, it is tantamount to political suicide by leaders who have battled to win the hearts of people in the southern region.

The water crisis in Bulawayo comes as Zimbabwe is battling a cholera outbreak and has begun a vaccination drive to stop the spread of the waterborne disease.

In the absence of water supplies, the cholera fight will be a futile exercise.

The Bulawayo water crisis is no longer mayor David Coltart’s issue.

Nor is it in the realm of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change which controls the city.

It requires combined forces to alleviate the crisis. How can the city attract investors when residents can go for more than a week without water? It will be a hard sale for those that want to lure investors.

While the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project is the lasting solution, we believe the government can chip in to alleviate the crisis and avert the spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera.

To its credit, the President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration got the project off the ground. It must now scale up the works being done so that Bulawayo and the region at large have access to water.

The water crisis in Bulawayo has spawned deindustrialisation and relocation of companies to Harare as they seek a conducive environment for business.

We have reported of companies that have closed and churches taking over the premises. Vision 2030 in which Zimbabwe wants to attain an upper middle-income status will be a pipedream if attendant enablers such as water and power suppliers are erratic. No company will be lured to invest in such a destination. In addition, there will be a drop in the standards of living for people in such a destination.

Water is a right enshrined in the constitution and is the duty of the State to ensure that it is available to citizens. The Bulawayo water crisis demands urgent attention. The business-as-usual approach cannot work.

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