BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/FREEMAN MAKOPA
Harare City Council (HCC) has announced a temporary shutdown of Morton Jaffray and Warren Control waterworks treatment plants until Sunday, forcing many residents in the capital to experience a dry weekend.
“City of Harare would like to notify residents and stakeholders that there will be a shutdown at Morton Jaffray and Warren control waterworks scheduled from today to Sunday December 20, 2020,” council said in a statement.
“This shutdown is to enable our contactors to install new water pumps. The department will also be taking advantage of this critical shutdown to undertake other critical shutdowns to undertake critical outstanding maintenance works. The successful completion of these works will reduce physical water losses currently obtained in the system.”
The water treatment plant has been shut down several times this year because of shortages of chemicals used in treating water and incapacitation.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently ordered an urgent allocation of $9,3 million to council water treatment plant after the facility shut down due to shortage of chemicals.
The money is expected to go towards equipment and chemicals for the waterworks, particularly chlorine and aluminium sulphate.
The city is owed nearly $2,2 billion dollars by the government, companies and residents in unpaid rates.
Meanwhile, the HCC yesterday said it was appealing to the government to grant it permission to charge some of its services in United States dollars in order to capacitate its departments.
The council has in the past been accused of poor services delivery, which it blames on unavailability of foreign currency.
Acting HCC spokesperson Innocent Ruwende said they were appealing to government to charge other services in foreign currency to ensure the local authority is able to deliver. He said some of the equipment needed by council required forex.
“We have 15 trucks which have been stuck in South Africa for two years and we need US$1,3 million for us to have these trucks. Residents are always complaining about refuse collection.
We have engaged government, but we were given money that was not enough to bring the trucks,” Ruwende said.
“We are appealing to government to help us get the trucks in the country and provide services or allow us to charge on-demand services in United States dollars.
“These are services which residents approach council for and doesn’t affect everyone, we have building plans and those companies that open trenches in town or other buildings, so if we are allowed to charge those in foreign currency, we will be in a position to procure our trucks which are outside the country.”
He added: “If we are allowed to charge in foreign currency we will be able to provide services to our residents or customers.”
Ruwende also bemoaned vandalism of council property saying this was affecting the local authority which is also in capacitated.
“We are owed $2,2 billion by residents and business who have not been paying their rates and as for now, only about 25% of them are paying their rates which has affected our operations because the residents are the ones that fund the services.”
The city is now mulling various debt recovery strategies, including blacklisting defaulters.