Most suburbs in Bulawayo have gone for more than a week without water increasing the desperation of the city’s residents. Residents are increasingly resorting to buying water from private suppliers with boreholes as the water crisis deepens in the city.
On Tuesday all residential suburbs went dry following the interruption of the city’s water pumping system due to the annual maintenance by the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) at Springs, Fernhill and Ncema pump stations.
The council is no longer adhering to the 144-hour weekly water shedding schedule and even after lifting the exercise more suburbs are no longer accessing water. Long queues at various boreholes across the city have become the order of the day as the council struggles to deliver water using water bowsers.
The deepening water crisis has seen some companies selling borehole water to residents.
A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited one of the companies selling water, BAPS Investment in Kelvin West near Dairibord Zimbabwe where several cars were queuing to buy water using huge containers. 1 000 litres of water costs US$2 or equivalent in local currency.
BAPS investment manager Mr Mobile Ndlovu said his company has been selling borehole water for years to mainly people building houses but of late, residents are buying it even for drinking.
“The water situation in Bulawayo is what has pushed more people to come and buy water from us. For instance, this morning, when we came in around 8 AM, there were scores of people some carrying even 20-litre containers who wanted to buy water and we have been busy ever since that is why there are queues like this. I think most suburbs did not receive water,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said selling water was not profitable for them as they were drawing water about 90 metres deep while using an electric pump, which is costly for them. “For us, at the moment it’s not about making profits but helping our fellow residents because people are desperate for water,” he said.
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) senior public relations Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said only licensed companies are allowed to sell borehole water in the city but not for drinking purposes. “The sale of borehole water has been permitted for some registered companies in Bulawayo for non-potable use such as gardening and construction. This is because the use of municipal water is not permitted for these activities,” said Mrs Mpofu.
BCC’s lack of commitment to addressing water woes. He urged BCC to increase water bowsers in the worst affected areas.