Alaska residents go for 20 years without tap water

BY JAMES MUONWA

Residents of Alaska Township in Chinhoyi have gone for 20 years without tapped water, forcing households to fetch supplies from disused mine shafts.

Thousands of residents currently face the risk of contracting waterborne diseases, as Chinhoyi Municipality battles to provide water to the former mining settlements of Alaska and Sheckleton.

A pump station at Chidzuwi Dam, which used to provide water to the area, broke down and council has, for years, failed to resuscitate it.

Speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting, organised by Women Coalition in Zimbabwe, an Alaska resident, Evelyn Guvaza lamented the perennial water challenges that have seen residents drinking water from disused mine shafts.

Guvaza expressed fears that the water might also be contaminated with cyanide, mercury or other harmful substances used in mining operations.

“The last time we had water flowing out of our taps was in 1998, but it seems council has failed to solve this problem,” she said.

“Residents of Alaska have been left with no option but to draw water from mine shafts, but we are not sure if the water is safe because it might be
contaminated.”

Chinhoyi Municipality engineer Simon Marara said council needed to budget for the construction of a new water treatment and pump station dedicated for the two
suburbs, which are not connected to the town’s main water and sewer reticulation system.

“As council, we need to recast our finances to create another pump station for Alaska and Sheckleton, but unfortunately, the same people are not paying rates
to council, but expect service provision,” he said.

The engineer said the former owner of the mine settlements, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, was to blame for the residents’ woes becaucse the firm
failed to develop infrastructure to service the area.

Marara said council had since approached a German development partner, GIZ, which has pledged materials to revamp the dilapidated pump station at Chidzuwi Dam.

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