HomeLocal NewsWater scandal rocks Harare

Water scandal rocks Harare

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Vainona and Pomona residents are up in arms against “water barons” in the area whom they accuse of illegally drawing almost a million litres of underground water daily for resale in dry suburbs such as Glen Lorne, Borrowdale and Gun Hill.

The residents, most of whom use borehole water, claim the water table in the area has significantly dropped and some of their boreholes have run dry because of the practice.

The water barons are alleged to be selling 5 000 litres of water for $50. The residents said this was on “a cash business” and the culprits could be making as much as $8 000 a day at no cost, which easily translated to about $180 000 a month.

The residents added their fear was there could be powerful people behind the whole scheme who could easily grease officials’ palms and continue with business in violation of the Water Act.

One of the residents’ representatives said his borehole was now giving less water while other boreholes in the area had run completely dry.

“This place was rich in water. But what is going on here is typical corruption. The trucks used to carry water are expensive to run and this means the product (water) has high profit,” he said.

He said while they appreciated people needed water, the business had to be in a sustainable way. “We accept that people need water because not everyone has a borehole. But this must be done in a sustainable way. They must get water from a sustainable catchment area.”

They said they engaged one of the water dealers, identified as Collin Campbell – who runs Pomona Quarry, but they got a “hostile” response.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Campbell admitted the land on which the boreholes were located belonged to him, but said he leased it to water companies who were legalised to deal in water.

“This has got absolutely nothing to do with me. But these people (water dealers) have permission and it’s legal,” he said. “They are registered and they pay licences. But I don’t really care where they are getting their water from because they have extraction rights. I just lease the land to them,” he said.

One of the water barons Anthony Kotze told NewsDay he was licenced to extract and sell water.

“Of course we ware licensed. How can I draw water without a licence? I pay about $1 000 per quarter to Upper Manyame Sub-catchment,” he said. City spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi, however, said such actions were illegal and urged residents to record registration numbers of vehicles used to carry the water and make a report.

“It is not true (that they are licensed to extract and sell water) and we urge residents to get the vehicle numbers and bring them to us. It is illegal,” he said.

The Upper Manyame Sub-catchment Council wrote to Kotze in November last year instructing him to limit the pumping of water to just two days a week as a conservation mechanism, but the instruction was ignored.

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