The Bulawayo City Council has come under fire for proposing to have residents who exceed their daily water consumption limits arrested amid calls for more consultations on the restrictions.
Council last week introduced water rationing and councillors want the police to be roped in to enforce the regime.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association co-ordinator Rodrick Fayayo yesterday said instead of getting the residents arrested, council should hold awareness campaigns.
“We need to conserve water because residents are aware of the critical state of our dams,” he said.
“However, the move by council (to recommend arrests) will strain relations with the residents. The council is there because of the residents.
“Council should instead hold consultative meetings to emphasise the need to conserve water. They should not restrict their outreach to advertisements only, but get the message to the people.”
Bulawayo United Residents’ Association chairman Winos Dube concurred saying the arrests were not likely to benefit council.
“As much as we respect that there are restrictions and advise the residents that they must conserve water, we ask ourselves how will the move benefit council?” asked Dube.
“The fines that the residents will be charged by the police will go to central government and council will not benefit in any way.”
He said there was need for council to work with residents’ associations in spreading the message of water conservation to the people.
“The people are already strained and some are failing to pay rates on time, taking them to the police would cause further strain,” Dube said.
“We need government to speed up the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipeline project so that the water crisis in Bulawayo is resolved.”
As part of water rationing, the local authority introduced limits of 300-350 litres of water daily for each household this month as it grappled with an imminent water shortage following reports that most of its supply dams held water below 50% of their capacity.
Among a raft of measures introduced to conserve water was stoppage of all brick-making and car wash projects using water drawn from major dams.
However, hotels, restaurants and government institutions have received separate daily limits.
According to council’s Future Water Supplies and Water Action Committee, a list of people caught on the wrong side has already been compiled and would be handed over to the police for arrest and prosecution.