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Water woes to continue – experts

Augustine Mukaro

HARARE’S water woes will not be solved unless the Morton Jaffrey Waterworks expansion and computerisation started more than eight years ago is com

pleted, experts have said.

Harare embarked on the expansion and computerisation of the waterworks in 1997 hoping to complete the project in a year to boost the plant’s water purification capacity from 480 to around 700 megalitres a day. An Israeli company, Odis, was contracted to carry out the project with Makonde MP Leo Mugabe’s Integrated Engineering Group as its local partner. More than eight years on, the project in Norton just after Manyame River bridge on the Bulawayo highway, is still not complete.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Mugabe said the project was abandoned following council’s failure to pay the contractor.

“We waited for sometime for council to make payments but it was prolonged until Odis, our technical partners, left the country,” Mugabe said.

Harare’s water management together with the waterworks plant have since been taken over by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).

“Just this year, we wrote to Zinwa on the need to finish the project. If Zinwa agrees to pay, even in principle, we will invite Odis back into the country to complete the project,” Mugabe said.

Mugabe conceded that completion of the project would go a long way in improving the water situation in the capital.

“Having such a massive project lying idle is painful to everybody,” Mugabe said. “We would want to finish it for the improvement of the water situation in Harare.”

Mugabe said he could not give specific details of the money owed by council because he was out of the office.

Fired Harare mayor Engineer Elias Mudzuri said during his short-lived tenure at Town House he had been fighting to bring back Odis to revive the project to improve the capital’s water situation.

“The Israelis never completed the project,” Mudzuri said. “Before leaving Town House, I had engaged the Israeli Embassy to negotiate the return of Odis to complete their project.”

Mudzuri said Odis was paid all the money for the project but that the company was asking for more money before coming back to resume construction work.

“Odis was paid the US$10 million they had demanded for the project that time, but because of the delay in completion, they were asking for an additional payment,” Mudzuri said.

Water problems in Harare have been at the centre of controversy with Zinwa being the latest target of attack for failing to improve the situation.

This week the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) called for the responsibility of supplying and administering water in Harare to revert to the municipality because Zinwa had failed to provide services.

“No substantive benefits have accrued to local authorities in Zimbabwe since Zinwa came on board,” CHRA said in a statement.

“Persistent bickering between the City of Harare and Zinwa over accountability to residents in cases of quality of water, leakages, inadequate supplies and billing have put residents in an unnecessary dilemma.”

CHRA said the absence of a memorandum of understanding between the City of Harare and Zinwa was disastrous and a corrupt business arrangement, which should be rejected.

“Residents cannot be coerced to pay unreasonable, unjustified and unlawful water rates coming from a water body that is unaccountable to them but to the government,” CHRA said.

Zinwa has proposed to increase water rates from the current $8 to $100 a cubic metre, a move that has angered residents.

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