Kwekwe sits on health time bomb

By Patrick Chitumba

Redcliff municipality is allegedly discharging raw sewage into streams which feed into Kwekwe River, posing a serious health hazard for its residents, those in Kwekwe and villagers downstream. Redcliff municipality Engineer Thembani Kundhlande confirmed the development.

He said their four sewer treatment plants have not been working for the past one and half years.

Eng Kundhlande accused a contractor, identified as Drawcard, of stalling the town’s sewer treatment plant rehabilitation project after allegedly receiving $300 000 —part of a $4 million grant for the rehabilitation of water supply and sanitation systems for the local authority availed by Zimbabwe Multi Donor Trust Fund in 2016.

Addressing town engineers and councillors from other local authorities from the country during the Service Level Benchmarking (SLB) review tour in Redcliff yesterday, Eng Kundhlande said Redcliff and Kwekwe were sitting on a health time bomb because of effluent being discharged daily into water bodies.

SLB is considered one of the tools required to monitor and support recovery efforts in service delivery, especially urban councils in the country.

“Zimbabwe Multi Donor Trust Fund availed a $4 million grant for the rehabilitation of Redcliff council water supply and sanitation systems and a contractor Drawcard won the tender and received $300 000 to kick start the project.

“We then handed over our four sewer treatment plants to Drawcard and it was supposed to have completed the rehabilitation works by December last year,” Eng Kundhlande said.

“They have failed to meet their end of the contract. As a result, we have been discharging raw sewer into the water bodies which feed into Kwekwe River thereby posing a health hazard to our residents and those downstream in Kwekwe. It’s by the grace of God that we haven’t recorded any fatalities.”

He said their hopes now lay with the Government.

“We have written to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing expressing our displeasure at Drawcard which has failed to honour its part of the deal because we can’t continue discharging effluent into water bodies. We are therefore waiting for the Ministry’s way forward because we can’t continue like this, residents’ lives are at risk” Eng Kundhlande said.

At the Rutendo Reservoir, the engineers and councillors were shown a two-roomed structure constructed by Drawcard.

Eng Kundhlande said Drawcard is yet to put a perimeter fence to prevent unauthorised entry to the works.

Two Drawcard officials present during the tour declined to comment on Eng Kundhlande’s allegations.

“We are just employees and we can’t comment,” said one of them.

The tender given to Drawcard involves pipe replacement of critical sections in the water distribution system including 2,3km of 250mm diameter corroded steel pipes on a supply pipeline to Torwood which can no longer deliver water.

The pipes are supposed to be replaced with PVC pipes.

On the sewerage side, corroded steel sewer pipes are supposed to be dismantled and replaced.

Sewer ponds are also supposed to be rehabilitated.

In December last year, Redcliff Mayor Councillor Fred Kapuya said there has been no progress at all save for strikes by Drawcard workers week in and week out over non-payment of salaries.

“The challenge being faced is the failure by the company to pay its employees resulting in strikes and no work. We are running out of patience as we have already missed our December deadline,” he said then. The Chronicle