By Nqobile Tshili
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is rolling out a water kiosk programme to benefit 14 suburbs in high lying areas worst affected by the city’s water crisis, bringing relief to thousands of residents.
Council, in partnership with the private sector, has since installed six tanks each carrying 10 000 litres of water in Pumula South which got two tanks, and one tank each in Pumula East, Nkulumane, New Magwegwe and Cowdray Park.
Council yesterday commissioned the six completed water kiosks during a ceremony in Pumula South.
The tanks will be filled with water by council and its partners three days a week.
Council is implementing a 144-hour weekly water shedding exercise to manage dwindling water levels at the city’s dams that are at 26 percent full.
Some high lying areas are not receiving water even when supplies are restored due to low pressure in reservoirs making it impossible for water to reach their houses, a development that seen some areas going for up to seven months without water.
The water crisis is deemed to be the worst that the city has ever recorded and has triggered a typhoid and dysentery outbreak that has killed 13 and infected more than 1 800 in Luveve suburb and surrounding areas.
Council has come up with several interventions to address the water situation including working with development partners and the private sector in installing the water kiosks which are basically 10 000 litre water tanks that have either one or three taps.
The local authority has identified 25 sites in 14 suburbs where the water kiosks will be erected for improved water deliveries to residents.
Suburbs covered under the programme are Nkulumane which will have 4 tanks; Pumula South (3), Harrisvale (3), Sunninghill (2), Cowdray Park (2), Magwegwe (2), Tshabalala (2), Lobengula West (1), Lobengula Extension (1), Pumula East (1), Old Pumula (1), Emganwini (1), Lochview (1) and Woodville (1).
Council yesterday commissioned six of the completed water kiosks in a partnership with Danish Church Aid and Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited.
Speaking during the commissioning in Pumula South yesterday, mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni said through building bridges, council can effectively address challenges affecting the city.
He said so far, they have funding for 21 of the 25 water kiosks after working with partners.
“The water kiosks which have been put up are the first that were done when the city introduced this concept. This is meant to ease the burden of water shortages currently being faced particularly high lying areas such as Pumula South and other areas that are affected by low water pressure due to low reservoir levels,” said Clr Mguni.
He said provision of water to residents using water bowsers has proved unsustainable, hence council had to be innovative in ensuring access to water in view of Covid-19.
“The water kiosk concept is therefore meant to address the challenges of social distancing at these points, reduce waiting time and enable more areas to be supplied with water. The city has come up with 25 sites in high lying areas,” said Clr Mguni.
He said as the water levels at city’s dams continue decreasing, the city might be forced to identify more sites to provide water to residents.
“I’m glad that the partnership between these three organisations has borne fruits which will improve access to water by the community. The City of Bulawayo is cognisant of the fact that partnerships are key in building the city towards sustainable economic growth. It is pleasing therefore that our partners have indicated their willingness to work with us even for this fairly new concept of water kiosks,” he said.
Schweppes Zimbabwe acting business executive southern region head Mr Nash Mashavane said providing bulk water to residents was part of the company’s measures of giving back to the community while fighting Covid-19.
“We know Bulawayo has problems with access to water and we are part of the Bulawayo community. We are now providing water because of Covid-19 pandemic. We saw that water was an essential service which was lacking in the community,” said Mr Mashavane.
Danish Church Aid country director Mr Ringisai Chikohomero said only through partnerships between Government, private sector and developmental partners, can effective development be delivered to communities.
He pledged that his organisation will continue to assist Bulawayo in addressing the water crisis.
A resident, Mr Thembani Moyo, said the kiosks system has come handy for them as their taps have been dry for almost seven months. “As Pumula South residents we have a serious water challenge. Since the start of the year we have not received any tap water. We rely on water delivered by Schweppes. We are grateful for this programme that brings relief to us,” said Mr Moyo.
“We still have a serious problem. Water is delivered three times per week to a 10 000 litres jojo tank. The three deliveries mean that we get 30 000 litres per week and we have about 250 households fetching water from the kiosk. This means in a week each household gets about 100 litres of water which is not adequate. We wish that they increase the water deliveries to four times a week.”
He said water from kiosks is used for drinking and they complement with borehole water used for washing and other things.
Mr Moyo said boreholes are limited and overwhelmed resulting in some people spending almost the entire day queuing to fill up containers. “We use the water we get from boreholes to flash toilets, bathing and washing. But it’s also not easy to get the water. People queue in the boreholes up to the middle of the night,” said Mr Moyo. The Chronicle