Morton Jaffray refurbishment: Much ado about nothing

THE MORTON JAFFRAY water project was touted as the panacea to Harare’s water woes and that belief stood until Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni dropped a bombshell recently in Parliament.
After all the hullaballoo about the $144 million deal to refurbish the worn out Morton Jaffray water works, many, including those who have endured long queues at night to harvest the precious liquid from boreholes thought the dry taps in the Metropolitan province of Harare would be a thing of the past, but the hubbub has remained what it is.


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SPECIAL REPORT BY MOSES MATENGA

moses matengaAccording to Manyenyeni, the city would only get an additional 20% increase from the current 500 megalitres a day that it was pumping to more than 4 million residents within greater Harare encompassing Norton, Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Epworth.

His avowals were echoed by Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere who said the only remedy to the water crisis was the coming up of Kunzvi Dam into the supply system and until then, the erratic water supplies would remain thus.

WATER IS A BASIC RIGHT
Women and children fetch water and wash clothes in the Mukuvisi River. Picture by Aaron Ufumeli
Women and children fetch water and wash clothes in the Mukuvisi River. Picture by Aaron Ufumeli

“Besides the City of Harare failing to provide water, there is also failure by central government to ensure the steady realisation of the right to water and health as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” the HRT report further reads.

In the wake of a serious water crisis, there is a local authority that’s rubbing salt onto a wound by cutting supplies to defaulters, further worsening the situation.

“Water disconnections remain unjustified and illegal (and) HRT urges the Harare City Council to desist from disconnecting water from residents for allegedly owing the City of Harare in rates and rentals.

Quotation Marks LogoCoercion never works. Residents in Kuwadzana, Glen Norah and other suburbs had their water disconnected during the weeks 15 February to 07 March. In Kuwadzana 1 residents were disconnected for not paying the March 2014 bill. That is madness because residents cannot be disconnected for failure to pay for a service that is yet to be rendered. The billing system has to be revamped.”
RESIDENTS DRINK FROM CONTAMINATED SOURCES

Water has been a scarce commodity in Harare with council admitting it had failed in dealing with the precious liquid’s supply.

This has led to residents taking to alternative sources including digging wells that have since become contaminated ultimately becoming the major source of waterborne diseases.

Combined Harare Residents’ Association (CHRA) chairman Simbarashe Moyo said that the water situation was catastrophic and admission by government that it will not be solved soon was even scary.

“What happens is that people will turn to other alternative sources and once that is done, they fall sick and will flock to local council clinics for medication and again it’s also a mess,” he said.

NewsDay also observed that residents in areas like Mbare were resorting to the dangerously contaminated Mukuvisi River for drinking water, bathing and laundry, exposing themselves to waterborne diseases.

It was also observed that the same river was used as a dumpsite by industries making it a “poisonous water source” for residents.

Statistics availed by the Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) show that millions of people were going for days without water and residents had run out of patience.

“We are really seriously concerned with the capacity of the Harare Water [department] and the treasury department to bill for any service yet they are unable to provide that service,” HRT boss Precious Shumba said

“Most suburbs across Harare have been experiencing water shortages since mid-February. The most affected areas are Kuwadzana Extension, Budiriro 1, 2 and 3, Mabvuku and Tafara where those in the 13, 14 and 15 households in Old Tafara last received water eight years ago,” read the HRT report in part.

Other areas identified where waterborne diseases have been detected due to the water crisis include Mbare where seven cases were recorded from February 26 to March 5 2014.

There were unconfirmed reports of typhoid and cholera outbreaks in Mabvuku and Tafara.

OLD PIPES, MACHINERY COST COUNCIL

Harare has also complained about leakages due to what they say were dilapidated machinery and pipes that feed suburbs and industries.

Town clerk Tendai Mahachi, however, told Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and his Water counterpart Kasukuwere that council had made available pressure reducing valves (PRVs) to control pressure and those leakages might be a thing of the past.

Quotation Marks Logo“The water supply networks have non-revenue water level of 60%. This is the difference between the water produced and the water sold. The high level of non-revenue water is due to physical water losses in the network, non-functional meters and illegal connections,” read a document presented by City of Harare recently.

Harare has witnessed serious water leakages in the city particularly in the Avenues, CBD, Malborough, Warren Park and several other areas due to what council says were as a result of worn-out pipes.

“The following areas have permanent water leakages — At corner Nelson Mandela and Kwame Nkrumah, Leopold Takawira and Park lane. Along Robert Mugabe Road in front of Duly’s Trucks, there is a huge opening with treated water flowing down the drain.

At corner Robson Manyika and Fourth Street there is a leakage since 21 February 2014. In the Avenues area, there is a leakage at corner Josiah Tongogara Avenue and Prince Edward Road,” this according to the residents report in their areas.

In Mount Pleasant, Borrowdale, Greystone Park, and Glen Lorne residents have gone without water for the last eight months relying on water harvesting techniques and boreholes.

Those without boreholes have to buy water from water vendors for between $50 and $70 for 5 000 litres.

“For Mabvuku-Tafara, the situation in some low-lying areas is improving since they now have water once a week. Previously they got no water at all. They usually depend on boreholes sunk by Unicef in the community. In some high ground areas like Shashe in Mabvuku and Tsombori and Sosoori Crescent in Old Tafara they receive no water since 2005,” said the HRT.

“In Budiriro 1, 2, 3 and 4- Residents in these areas have not had any tap water since 21 February 2014. Some residents in Budiriro 4 had water turned off by council workers due to unpaid bills. Residents draw water from one borehole, but it is inadequate considering the number of residents residing there.”

COMPANIES SHOULD PAY FOR THE POLLUTION OF WATER BODIES

During a tour of the Morton Jaffray, both Chombo and Kasukuwere agreed that government had to act to make companies polluting sources of water pay for their actions without giving the burden to Harare.

So contaminated is the water that flows into Chivero that Harare uses eight, instead of two chemicals to try and purify it.

Despite using eight chemicals, there have been reports of the water still being far from pure and having the potential to cause diseases.

The current cost of chemicals is $100 000 a day or $3 million per month and the entire burden is forwarded to the ratepayer.

According to Kasukuwere, the Kunzvi Dam project will add 250 megalitres a day to the existing supply and until then, it is the struggle for the precious liquid continuing in the city of Harare.

REFURBISHMENT SHROUDED IN CONTROVERSY
The refurbishment of the Morton Jaffray Water works
The refurbishment of the Morton Jaffray Water works

The Morton Jaffray waterworks refurbishment has come with controversy with renowned engineer and consultant Peter Morris citing irregularities and overpricing.

Morris, who was engaged under the Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund administered by the African Development Bank’s Urgent Water Supply and Sewerage Rehabilitation Project to assess the deal noted that the prices in most instances were inflated by two, three or up to five times.

Quotation Marks Logo“An examination of rates where it has been possible to compare against other contracts (including Zimfund UWSSRP Phase I) suggests that prices are inflated in many cases by factors of 2, 3 or even 5 times. There is a provision for two boats with 150HP motors to access the intake tower at a cost of $91 393. A local firm is making a slightly smaller boat with a 150HP motor and trailer for $20 000,” read the Morris report in part.

“Further, it is not necessary to have such powerful boats for this function; a displacement hull with a 20HP motor would be more than adequate.”

Another discrepancy was that 14 DN300 gate valves with extension spindle cost $90 241 — including installation cost — although Gweru City Council had bought similar valves for about
$1 000 each. This means the 14 valves could have been bought at around $14 000 instead of $90 241.

The report also showed that two 5.5KW alum transfer pumps were bought for $113 562 and yet they could have been bought for $7 548.

Also mayor Manyenyeni admitted that there could be corruption going on as the deal did not go through public tender.

Shadow minister for local government and MP for Gweru Central Sessel Zvidzai (MDC-T) said the cost of the project should not been more than $44 million had it not been for overpricing.

morton jaffray

Local Government minister Chombo professed ignorance on the deal while Water Minister Kasukuwere said that it was above board challenging those who thought otherwise to provide evidence.

11 Comments

  1. Dieuetmondroit

    It all boils down to corruption, incompitance and lack of supervision on the part of ministries concerned,

  2. Dino wekuma 41

    The plant has been in existance since 1954 and a second unit was commissioned in 1976 so since independence this our government saw it fit to only add 1 unit in a city like Harare when they were all seeing the population growth , izvi zvinoratidza failure at its highest level ,

  3. @dino wekuma.The refurbishment was approved by Much Masunda headed mdcteaboy council albeit supervised by Chombo of zpf. This means both zpf and mdcteaboy are incompetent. Those who are higher offices are there for self-enrichment only. We have been indepedent for thirty four years but most infrastructure remains at the level it was at independence because those in power have no clue of their responsibilities.

    1. at gandanga: there were no potholes on the roads in 1980. Gravel roads were well maintained. There was no speculative pricing on anything at the time. Industrial capacity was at its highest, yet polluted our water ways and water sources less. All areas had water in Harare. To this country, independence has been more than a curse. It has all been about greed, incompetency, underdevelopment and regression in economic and infrastructural terms.

  4. There is complicity in corrupt deals by responsible supervision ministries. Resources are also wasted on funding expensive local government arrangements where there are more than 40 wards in greater Harare, requiring councillor representatives; the unnecessary fragmentation of the Harare area into Harare, Chitungwiza, Epworth and Ruwa local authority entities, all of which are just meant to gobble money in financially burdensome monetary outpourings on expenditures which do not at all further development. Take this observation to ministerial or cabinet appointments, the sickening number of provinces and administrative districts, then you realise the economic waste that is the Zimbabwe government. The country’s salvation lies in a breed of politician who is not yet available in the current structures of present-day parties like Zanu Pf and the MDCs.
    At the same time the media should also make sensible reports whenever they say something. For instance, there is no such thing as a corner of Nelson Mandela and Kwame Nkrumah Avenues in Harare, as this Newsday article says, because these two roads do not meet.

  5. Humbavha ndihwo hurikuuraya zvinhu zvose

  6. @gandanga sorry to refer you as crazy but i can`t help ZANU PF have been in charge since 1980
    MDC T council were just ceremonial councilors bcoz mukoma CHOMBO have been in charge so stop misleading people that MDC T failed

  7. @Gandanga you may always have the word mdcteaboy on your lips but who doesn’t know that Chombo the lecturer has the final say?

  8. All our politicians pride themselves in their capacities to fight: Fighting in the liberation war, or fighting those who fought in the liberation war. They never say that they are good administrators because they know that this is not their area of competency or interest. We like it this way because we vote for them. Consequently, we harvest war as services where others would ordinarily get water, good roads, well run institutions and government ministries.

  9. Thanks for all the supporters and the solidarity contributions showing here. But, as a lawyer, I could have done better to scrutinise the harare city/chinese company deal and then make lots more noise about it as other mdct persons were doing elsewhere. That would have invited calls for transparency and reasonable price citations far earlier.

  10. Before Chombo was appointed minister of local govt, service provision was reasonable in most local authorities. Wells/mungodhi, potholes etc were almost non-existent. Unfortunately his arrival was accompanied in most urban local authorities by mdcteaboy taking control. The two have destroyed whatever was functioning.

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