ChiTown residents ‘revolt’

CHITUNGWIZA residents are furious with their municipality for allegedly sabotaging a massive project to deliver water to more than 400 000 people.

The dormitory town lost the bulk of its water supplies after Harare’s Morton Jaffray main water treatment plant was shut down due to low raw water levels.

Residents are planning to demonstrate against authorities at the municipality today over reports that council is stalling efforts by some developers to supply water to the town.

However, Chitungwiza Municipality spokesperson Tafadzwa Kachiko said the council was waiting for Wistmer and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to iron out  “certain” issues.

“The project is mainly between Wistmer and Zinwa, we are only responsible for drawing water to households after the completion of the project,” he said.

Kachiko said residents planning today’s demonstration had not engaged the local authority over the project.

“Before organising the demo, the stakeholders should have made an effort to engage the authorities to get the truth about the matters they raised. We have an open-door policy,” he said.

Kachiko said Chitungwiza was rehabilitating the water reticulation system with pipes donated through the African Development Bank’s ZimFund.

“We have already started utilising those pipes. We are currently uprooting clogged sewage pipes in Unit M and replacing them. Full implementation of the project is being delayed by financial constraints. So, whenever we get funds, we make sure that we lay the pipes where they are supposed to,” he said.

The government has partnered Wistmer Investments, led by Walter Magaya, to tap into an aquifer in Seke to improve water provision in the town.

The project envisages providing at least eight to 25 megalitres of water daily to alleviate the water crisis in Chitungwiza and surrounding areas.

Magaya was not available for comment.

However, speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony which was attended by Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister Anxious Masuka a few months ago, Magaya said clean water supply was a priority for Chitungwiza.

Wistmer revealed that US$19 million had been allocated for the project with the equipment having arrived in the country. The company has also undertaken to drill and rehabilitate at least 16 of the 22 boreholes in the Manyame Rural District Council area.

However, some residents accused the Chitungwiza Municipality of deliberately stalling the project for more than seven months.

“Equipment for the whole project is now in the country. Chitungwiza Municipality is known for frustrating investors,” said one resident who refused to be named.

“The Japan International Co-operation Agency was frustrated after it had bought BNR Plant and sewage pipes in 2013 and other companies. The administration thrives on disorder, so they try by all means to frustrate investors.”

The Chitungwiza Multi-stakeholder Forum (CMF) has notified the police of the planned protest today with chairperson Jonathan Masamba, blaming the municipality’s bureaucracy for delaying the project and putting residents’ health at risk.

“The persistent water scarcity in our area stays unresolved. Furthermore, the administration’s delay in entering into public-private partnership agreements, particularly regarding Jonasi Aquifer project, exacerbates the situation. We urge swift action to alleviate this pressing issue,” read the CMF letter justifying the demonstrations.

Masamba also accused the municipality of not utilising donations made by well-wishers.

“Equipment donated by the Japan International Co-operation Agency, including the BNR Plant and sewage pipes, lies idle and deteriorating. This neglect compromises essential services and poses risk to public health,” he said.

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