HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsSick and tired of water, power crisis in Harare

Sick and tired of water, power crisis in Harare

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Yesterday morning, I put my garbage bin in the boot of my car and drove to a skip bin at Speke Avenue bus terminus where I dumped the rubbish.

Saturday Dialogue with Ropafadzo Mapimhidze

This is a routine that I undertake normally every Sunday morning before I go to church.

So erratic is service by Harare City Council that I have, for the past two to three years, been taking these trips to offload garbage at this skip bin.

When I came to Zimbabwe in 1980, after spending the better part of my life in a neighbouring country, this nation was such a spectacle.

I would walk up and down First Street in Harare’s central business district (CBD) majestically with my head up high as stilettos of my shoes hit the pavement without fear of tripping into a crevice or loose openings on the paved streets. Harare was spotlessly clean and dropping a sweet wrapping would impulsively force you to pick it up.

The water crisis has now been officially announced by the council and has since spread to all residential areas in Harare.

A news item on radio recently announced that there would be a three-day week supply of water in all residential areas, as council rehabilitates pipes at the Morton Jaffray Waterworks. The water crisis is a problem that was not created by the present council and hence to blame this team totally for this malady is grossly unfair.

The present council inherited a lot of these and many other problems from past office bearers. The issue of burst pipes and the need to replace them was known from the late 80s. But all that was ignored.

Instead, council went on an employment spree resulting in a bloated workforce and a ballooned payroll which ratepayers had to sustain.

Water was so clean that you could drink it straight from the tap. I previously lived in a country where water from the tap was so dangerous to take that many people died of cholera and other waterborne diseases. Relatives and friends would joke and laugh at me telling me that nothing of that sort would happen to Zimbabwe because they were a learned crop of people that wouldn’t allow standards to fall. But Zimbabwe, or to be precise Harare, is no longer the same story. From the brightly lit streets, our capital city has become so dark because of constant power cuts.

This may sound like a fable, but rape cases did happen in the dark alleys of the CBD. This is the city that has always been led by learned people who have allowed filth, street kids, vendors and many other ills to prevail. I live in the Harare North area, around Westgate, in Tynwald North where water supplies have been erratic for the past three years. Many households have dug wells as desperation for water reaches alarming levels.

There are about 60 houses which were built by a building society in this area which have not known water for nearly three years.

I recently put up a tank and filled it with water I bought from one of the many companies that have capitalised on this crisis. Most of the clients, ironically, who came to enquire about water to buy, are affluent people from very prominent homes.

There are many other worst-hit areas that include some parts of Borrowdale, Hogerty Hill, Greendale, Letombo Park, Msasa Park, Shawasha Hills, Zimre Park and numerous other suburbs. Before I put up a tank, I would carry four 25-litre containers to fill in water from my brother’s home in New Forest Estate, who has a borehole, twice a week. But I got tired of these nearly 36km return trips and decided to have a tank installed.

I buy water for $60 for $5 000 litres which hardly last a month. Added to that, I get home to a dark place as electricity has also become a luxury. I now have solar lamps which light up my home. I use the water as sparingly as I bathe twice using the same water. That is the water I also use to do my laundry, clean the floor and flush the toilet. I sometimes leave home without eating breakfast and return home after 7pm to pitch darkness.

But Harare City Council and power utility Zesa continue to send estimated bills for power, water and rates, for a service that is either erratic or non-existent. Tynwald North residents want these water meters removed because they argue that these are not serving any purpose at all. Residents have been taken for granted for too long and it is high time something was done to alleviate their suffering.

What would I have done with my trash if I didn’t have a car to take it to a skip bin in the city centre?

And what would I have done if I didn’t have a job that pays me so that I buy drinking water from supermarkets?

I could have perhaps done what people in squatter camps do. These people mess the environment with all sorts of litter including human excreta.

And what would I have done if I didn’t have a one-plate gas cylinder stove to cook on when Zesa goes off?

Before dollarisation, the excuse by these entities was lack of foreign currency. Now we have the US dollars and South African rands in circulation since 2009, so what is the problem now?

Can someone please tell us exactly what is going on? Enough is enough.

lrmapimhidze@newsday.co.zw

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