BY RICHARD MUPONDE
TO avert a cholera outbreak, Victoria Falls safari and tourism operators have called for a holistic approach in solving the resort town’s water problems which have seen residents going for weeks without water.
The water crisis has been attributed to intermittent load-shedding and failure by the town to supply water to a ballooning population.
Calls have been made for Zesa to erect a dedicated line for the resort town which is exempted from load-shedding and also for town fathers to go green and power the pumps with solar for uninterrupted supply of the precious liquid.
Fears abound that if the water problem persisted it would lead to contamination that will spark an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, thereby affecting tourism in the resort town and leading to loss of the much-needed foreign currency.
Victoria Falls is the country’s major tourism foreign currency earner.
Employers Association for Tourism and Safari Operators president Clement Mukwasi yesterday said the water situation should be solved once and for all to make Victoria Falls a safe haven for tourists.
“Water shortages affecting Victoria Falls have to be viewed in the context of power supply in the whole town. Firstly, the water reservoirs are now small for the population meaning that they have to work 24 hours,” he said.
“However, there also must be a 24-hour supply of energy and with the load-shedding, it’s impossible for water to be constantly available. There are three options which we should look at of which one is for government to subsidise a dedicated power line for the town, secondly the council should also go green and install solar panels at the pump station.
“Thirdly, is the use of generators, but this has its limitations because of lack of fuel and also that Victoria falls is a pristine area which doesn’t need constant noise because that will scare away wildlife,” Mukwasi added.
He said government, council and stakeholders should come up with a holistic approach to the issue.
“Zesa should not ask for cash upfront to erect a dedicated power line, but should recover it as we go. Tour operators, although having alternative sources of water for tourists themselves in terms of bathing and drinking, workers are the most affected as their morale was down,” Mukwasi said.
“They go home to be faced with no water to bath, cook or even wash uniforms and their health becomes compromised and we don’t need such in a tourist destination.”
He said Victoria Falls requires at least $15,7 million for expansion and rehabilitation of water and sanitation infrastructure to support more than 5 000 properties in the resort town and about 33 600 residents according to the 2012 census figures.
According to a budget proposal by Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, which advises government on major infrastructure projects, Victoria Falls, being Zimbabwe’s tourism prime destination, requires massive investment to upgrade its water and sanitation facilities.
The country recorded 2,6 million international tourist arrivals in 2018, a 6% jump from the 2,4 million in 2017.