BY SILAS NKALA
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says it has exhausted the US$33 million received from the African Development Bank (AfDB) on various projects, forcing the contractor working on the Epping Forest water project to down tools over non-payment.
Council was responding to a petition by residents on its failure to complete the water project.
The residents wanted to know when government would provide interim subsidies to urban authorities through public sector investment programme and development partner financing to finance rehabilitation and expansion of infrastructure.
They also wanted to know when was the last time BCC received such subsidies, how much it was, and how it was spent.
Town clerk Christopher Dube said a “grant of US$33 million from the AfDB through the government was received in 2016 and used to improve the water pumping capacity, treatment, water main renewal and upgrading, sewer network rehabilitation and waste water treatment plants rehabilitation.”
Dube said in 2019, $4,5 million was utilised towards repair and purchase of pumps for the Aisleby 2 wastewater treatment plant, electric motors, rewinding and rehabilitation of the Matshobana outfall sewer.
Dube said the development of new water sources and improvement at the existing water sources were urgent.
“In the short-to-medium term, Inyankuni Booster Station upgrade needs US$0,4 million, increasing of Mtshabezi abstraction US$2,3 million and Khami water recycling US$35 million,” he said.
He said another priority was the construction and commissioning of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project in the long term, starting with the construction and equipping of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.
Dube said the pipeline levy collected during the US dollar era was
US$6 911 115,26 and the money was used for the Epping Forest Project, which is expected to contribute 10ML/ day to the city once finalised.
He said post-dollarisation from July 2018 to December 2020,
$4 075 924,88 was collected, adding that the pipeline levy tariffs have remained at the same nominal value of $1 since inception.
However, questions have been raised on the use of the funds at the Epping Forest after it emerged that the contractor hired to work on the project reportedly downed tools, demanding payment in foreign currency after the government had offered to pay in local currency.
Indications are that the contractor had undertaken the work while the country was still using foreign currency, but that changed when the government adopted the Zimbabwe dollar as the sole legal tender.
As a result, the Epping Forest project stopped despite being one of the projects expected to provide an additional 10 megalitres of water per day to Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe National Water Authority Umzingwane catchment manager Tony Rosen on Wednesday confirmed at a meeting that the contractor refused to continue, demanding payment in foreign currency, adding that the government was yet to release funding for the work to continue.
Rosen revealed that BCC had offered to provide funding for the project.