Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
A SERIOUS water shortage has hit Beitbridge town after the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) started reducing supplies to the town on Wednesday morning to force council to service a $7 million debt dating back to 2009.
The parastatal resorted to the drastic measure after Beitbridge town council failed to pay full monthly instalments of $70,000 as per the two parties’ agreement.
Zinwa is now pumping 2,000 cubic mitres of water per day down from the usual 6,000 cubic mitres.
This has worsened the town’s water problems which requires a total of 15,000 cubic mitres of water per day. Beitbridge town has a population of 42,000 people and 12, 000 households and an additional transit population of 10,000 people per day.
Zinwa’s Acting Corporate Communications and Marketing Manager, Tsungirirai Shoriwa confirmed the developments yesterday.
“Under the payment plan, the council was supposed to make monthly payments of $70 000 to Zinwa and the local authority has failed to make the payment, leaving Zinwa with no option but to restrict supplies. During the month of December, the local authority paid $46,500,” said Shoriwa.
“It must also be noted that the local authority owes Zinwa money running into millions of dollars and the $70 000 was only meant to allow continuous flow of service since the local authority’s average monthly bill is $140,000.”
He said the restriction of water supplies to Beitbridge was part of the organisation’s efforts to recover more than $100 million it is owed by various clients, chief among them local authorities, government departments, farmers and parastatals.
Shoriwa said as a way to manage the ballooning debt being accrued largely by bulk water clients they had resolved to introduce the prepaid metering system.
“We urge all our clients whose water bills are not paid up to approach their respective Zinwa offices and make payments or present acceptable payment plans to avoid inconveniences such as disconnections,” he said.
He added that they were looking forward to the completion of a new water treatment plant in Beitbridge which would increase supplies.
Civil works at the pump started in 2011 and the project was set for completion in two years, but has been delayed due to inadequate funding.
So far the government has spent over $13million on the civil works and needs an additional $700,000 for the final stages. The new treatment plant has a pumping capacity of 2,160 cubic metres of water per hour.
“The project is substantially complete and awaits the release of funds from government for it to be test run,” said Shoriwa.