BULAWAYO City fathers have refused to guarantee borehole water quality claiming it is not their responsibility to ensure that the water is free from contamination.
Residents are enduring a 72-hour-water shedding regime after the local authority decommissioned one of the supply dams, Umzingwane, due to low water levels.
However, the council has been accused of failing to stick to the water-shedding timetable, forcing residents to fetch the precious liquid from boreholes and unsafe water sources.
Boreholes have been a stop-gap measure during times of prolonged water cuts, but the local authority said the bacteriological quality cannot be guaranteed.
According to latest Bulawayo City Council (BCC) minutes, Deputy Mayor Mlandu Ncube said most of the existing boreholes were donated by a non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
This leaves the local authority without any responsibility to ensure water quality at the said boreholes, Ncube said.
“It was not Council’s policy to drill boreholes in the City,” Ncube said.
“Most boreholes were donated by NGOs during the water crisis.
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“The boreholes had been handed over to the Council. Council’s mandate was to provide treated water through the taps.”
As the water crisis continues, water borne diseases, particularly diarrhoea, have become endemic in the city.
Bulawayo recorded 1 200 diarrhoea cases between July and September 2022.
The outbreak was blamed on water shortages as well as contamination of water sources due to incessant pipe bursts within the city’s ageing water reticulation infrastructure.
In 2020, a killer diarrhoea outbreak claimed 13 lives and infected over 2000 other residents.
Councillor Lillian Mlilo urged residents to first boil borehole water before drinking it.
Councillor Donaldson Mabuto did not support the drilling of more boreholes saying the city has enough boreholes which only needed to be maintained properly.
Councillor Sikhululekile Moyo said some of the boreholes in the city have been fixed.
“A total number of 60 boreholes have been rehabilitated. 35 boreholes have been sunk. Most water projects need revenue. Residents should be advised to pay their monthly bills,” Moyo said.
Bulawayo has faced water challenges for years.
When the water shortages are so severe, city fathers resort to penalising residents who hoard the precious liquid or use more than the stipulated amounts per day.