Health time bomb looms in Mberengwa

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BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
MBERENGWA business centre in the Midlands province has gone for months without running water, a situation which has forced women to travel several kilometres to get water from Mtshingwe River carrying 20 litre buckets.

One of the affected residents Merjury Chuma told Southern Eye that she and her teenage daughter have to wake up at 4am daily to fetch water from the river.

Mberengwa business centre has around 15 000 residents whose lives are at risk of waterborne diseases.

“Since last year we have not had tap water, and we just fear for our health and in particular the health of children,” Chuma said.

“What makes it worse is that most people have resorted to ‘bush toilets’, and we could be hit by disease outbreaks.”

Chuma‘s husband, Robert said apart from fears of waterborne diseases, he also feared for the safety of his wife and daughter who have to fetch water at 4am everyday.

“You can imagine the time they wake up and the distance to Mtshingwe River given the menace of machete-wielding illegal gold panners who have increased in number in this area over the years. Women are prone to rape and can even be killed as they go to draw water from the river,” he said.

At Mataga Growth Point, the taps went dry last year.

Mberengwa Rural District Council (RDC) chief executive officer Thompson Maeresera said the growth point has been facing water challenges for years.

“The demand for water had increased due to the expanding population in the area,” he said.

Investigations by NewsDay revealed that the water crisis in Mberengwa was also related to electricity challenges after a transformer servicing one of the water lines was taken for repairs.

The water problems have also affected health institutions in the area such as Musume that relies on water drawn from Mataga Dam.

Zesa southern region spokesperson Edward Nyoni could not be reached for comment, but an engineer who requested anonymity confirmed  there was a faulty transformer, adding that transformers were out of stock at the area depot.

“We have a faulty transformer at the Mberengwa waterworks substation that supplies Zinwa pumps. Unfortunately those (transformers) are out of stock at our Zvishavane depot. However we are trying to get a replacement unit via our regional and head offices,” the engineer said.

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