Water woes raise Beitbridge cholera outbreak fears

By Mashudu Netsianda

A CHOLERA outbreak is looming in Beitbridge following a serious water crisis that has hit the border town coupled with perennial sewer bursts due to an aging sewer reticulation infrastructure.

Beitbridge children play in a stream of sewage thereby exposing themselves to the risk of diseases such as cholera

In 2008, Beitbridge was the worst cholera hit district in the country during which 36 people succumbed to the disease.

Pumps at the country’s busiest border town have since Wednesday last week been dry following a burst of the main water supply pipeline.

In a statement, the Municipality of Beitbridge said efforts were underway to restore water supply.

“Residents of Beitbridge town are advised that there is water interruption affecting the whole town owing to a burst main supply pipe. The water and sanitation team is working on the repairs. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused,” said the council.

Residents who spoke to The Chronicle said they were now relying on boreholes, which were drilled at various strategic points at the height of the cholera outbreak in 2008.

They now fear another cholera outbreak in the border town if the problem is not urgently addressed.

“The water situation in Beitbridge is serious and for the past seven days there has been no running water in most parts of the town and our worst fear is that we could soon have a fresh cholera outbreak if the problem is not urgently addressed,” said Ms Miriam Ndou, a Dulivhadzimu resident.

Another resident, Mr Jeremiah Muleya, said: “We have a serious of water challenge, especially in areas situated on high lying ground and what actually makes the situation worse is the common sight of raw sewage following through streams which feed into Limpopo River and this is a health time bomb ready to explode anytime.”

Beitbridge town draws its water from the

The town needs at least 15 000 cubic metres of water per day, but the local authority has been supplying a third of the daily requirement.

The town has 6 000 houses and is home to more than 40 000 people including the population in-transit.

Beitbridge has experienced water woes for the past three decades due to an old water treatment plant, which was designed to supply only 3 000 cubic metres of water per day.

Last year, the Government commissioned a new $40 million water treatment plant in Beitbridge with a pumping capacity of 4 000 cubic metres of water per hour.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has since embarked on an awareness campaign following the outbreak of cholera and typhoid in some parts of the country. The Chronicle.