Top three solutions for Bulawayo water crisis Bulawayo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Cde Judith Ncube

Sikhumbuzo Moyo, [email protected]

BULAWAYO has identified three key solutions in tackling severe water shortages which can be promptly put into action by expediting the release of critical emergency funding, amid mounting demands to declare the water crisis a state of disaster. 

The second-largest city is facing a catastrophic water crisis, which has seen the imposition of a 120-hour shedding schedule as the council struggles to pump enough raw water into its reservoirs as a result of depleted water levels in its supply dams coupled with a long-standing fault at the Ncema Pump Situation.

Some residents have gone for nearly three weeks with dry taps, forcing communities to source water from unclean sources, which increases the risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera. 

BCC stakeholders meeting

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) believes that the top three short to medium-term solutions to the crisis lie in the urgent construction of Glass Block Dam in Insiza District, Matabeleland South; repairing the Ncema water treatment plant; and the rehabilitation of 22 boreholes at the Nyamandlovu Aquifer.

However, all three solutions need urgent funding that the council does not have. 

The Glass Block Dam feasibility studies were done in 1988, according to the council. BCC is convinced that once the city is declared a water crisis area, it will be able to unlock funding avenues.

BCC stakeholders meeting- BURA Winos Dube

Speaking at a “Call to action, No Compromise to Service Delivery” blueprint stakeholders’ meeting at the Small City Hall yesterday, Bulawayo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Cde Judith Ncube, said the water crisis facing the city cuts across the political divide and needs all hands on deck. “The office of the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Matabeleland South and my office met recently to discuss the issue of Glass Block Dam construction and we agreed that we need a follow-up meeting with the relevant stakeholders because we need to find a way forward together.

City Engineer Sikhumbuzo Ncube

“This is for Bulawayo and we don’t have another or spare Bulawayo,” said Minister Ncube .She said early this week, her office met with the European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Jobst von Kirchmann where the issue of the Glass Block Dam funding was discussed at length.

Bulawayo mayor, Councillor David Coltart, who also met Mr Kirchmann, said the Ambassador assured him that there were emergency funds for such projects as dam construction but to unlock those funds, the Government needs to declare the city as a state of water emergency.

Writing on his X account, Mr Kirchmann also expressed his concern about the water shortage gripping the city, describing the situation and outlook as “alarming”.

Clr Coltart said the construction of the Glass Block Dam, repair of the Ncema Waterworks and Nyamandlovu boreholes will see the city’s water supplies improving by 70 percent. He is on record saying a total of US$14 million is needed to improve the city’s water supplies.

Meanwhile, in her keynote address on the day’s agenda, Minister Ncube, said she did not doubt that the city was the best-run local authority in the country.

Her remarks came after the presentation of the city’s rollout plan in response to the blueprint that was launched by President Mnangagwa in November last year.

While President Mnangagwa gave all local authorities up to June 30 this year to come up with development Master Plans, as well as valuation exercises for all its properties, it emerged that Bulawayo is awaiting approval of their 2019-2034 Master Plan by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, having submitted it in October 2022.

Minister Ncube urged the city to develop a road map towards the 2030 vision status.

“The Government will come up with minimum service delivery levels to be achieved by all. 

“We all do hope that our local authority here in Bulawayo has a robust plan in place for service delivery,” she said.

“Among other concerns by the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe is the fact that leasing of land on road servitudes has contributed immensely to the congestion levels in Metropolitan Provinces. 

‘Let us ensure that this does not happen in our beautiful city of Bulawayo.” 

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