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Water crisis hits property sector

Ngoni Chanakira

THE water crisis facing Harare and its surrounding areas has begun to delay the progress of construction projects that have now become white elephants.

rdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>It has also affected the development of water schemes in various suburbs underway such as in Monavale, Bluff Hill, Snake Park and Zimre Park in Harare.

Harare’s director of works Psychology Chiwanga recently said the capital city was facing a serious water crisis caused by “poor planning of urban settlements”.

The capital city now needs to borrow $50 billion to restore water to parts of the city which gets just six hours’ supply a day.

The water crisis has resulted in projects stopping mid-way such as the Joina Development Centre in Harare’s central business district as well as various housing schemes scattered throughout the country.

Some residents have been riled by the delay in the construction of their homes due to the water shortage.

“We bought the properties and paid hundreds of millions of dollars, but to-date we hear that not even roads have been constructed on the site,” said Rodgers Svovah, currently based in the United Kingdom.

He said the delays could also be due to “greedy developers more concerned about making money from customers”.

“We are about to complete our payments and yet there are no houses to be delivered at the end of the transactions. We do not even have title deeds.”

The Harare City Council, which this week first mooted and then shelved its idea of water rationing, has now gone cap in hand to government for the $50 billion for the dilapidated water reticulation system.

Ignatious Chombo is the minister responsible for all municipalities.

Unlike the Bulawayo City Council whose water source is upstream and, therefore, uses less purification chemicals, the Harare City Council “sits on” its water source and is, therefore, forced to use eight chemicals in the treatment process.

These are powdered activated carbon, liquid aluminium sulphate, white hydrated lime, sodium silicate, chlorine gas, anhydrous ammonia, sulphuric acid and ECOL 2000.

Chiwanga said while government had allocated Council $10,7 billion under the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) for various water and sewer related projects, it needed a further $48 billion.

Harare, however, does not have borrowing powers after Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono threw out its requests for funding, requesting the municipality to first produce “externally audited accounts”.

“Considering their unfavourable creditworthy status, however, it remains to be seen whether they will be able to access the required funds from the open market,” Chiwanga said. “The supply of water to Harare and its environs continues to provide challenges to the local authority and government, as efforts are made to seek a sustainable resolution and ensure the consistent supply of uncontaminated water.”

He said factors that affected the quality of the treated water included algae, the clogging of filters which result in increased backwash frequency, as well as the increased desludging of clarifiers.

Other contributory factors include pollution, the corrosion of concrete civil works, increased wear and tear of mechanical equipment and increased chemical usage.

Harare currently draws its water from four dams on the Manyame River, namely Chivero and Manyame both of which are owned by Council (83%) and government (17%), Harava which is wholly-owned by Council and Seke.

“In addition to the yield from the said dams the water supply to the City of Harare is supplemented by the reintroduction of treated waste (recycled) water into the water sources,” Chiwanga said. “It is now generally accepted that the water demand of the metropolitan exceeds the safe yield of these water sources, hence the tendering of the Kunzwi Dam and Pipeline Project.”

Svovah pointed out that there were many projects that had been stalled including the Warren Park/Belvedere West schemes, as well as the Snake Park project, where individuals had resorted to building on stands that do not have water and a proper reticulation system.

Chiwanga said studies had shown that there were 32 major polluters to Harare’s water sources with 11 of these facilities belonging to council.

“Unfortunately the water treatment plants were not designed to cope with the poor quality of water associated with the water sources, thus the consistent breakdowns,” Chiwanga said.

He said the Morton Jaffrey Number 1 Waterworks was commissioned in 1953, Number 2 in 1972, Number 3 in 1994 while Prince Edward Works was commissioned in 1928.

These dams are able to supply Harare with a total of 704 megalitres of water daily but are only supplying 533 megalitres.

He said what was now needed urgently was the establishment of a Harare utility company wholly-owned by council which would allow for an independent body to focus solely on issues pertaining to the supply of water to the Harare metropolitan area.

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