Cholera risk in Chiredzi as taps run dry
RESIDENTS of Chiredzi town are up in arms with the local council for exposing them to the risk of contracting cholera by failing to supply potable water.
This comes at the time the residents are clashing with the local authority for demanding the payment of water bills despite taps going dry in some areas for more than five years.
Chiredzi district is a cholera hospot, according to health officials, with one confirmed case and more than four suspected cases highlighting the danger.
To avert the crisis, Chiredzi West MP Farai Musikavanhu has since begun using his personal resources and mobilising support from sugar producer Tongaat Hulett to bring water to the residents of the Lowveld town using water bowsers and tanks as the cholera outbreak poses a grave public health risk.
United Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association advocacy officer Constance Chikumbo told The NewsHawks that residents of Chiredzi are at risk of contracting cholera since the local authority is failing to provide them with clean water. She said it seems council does not have a plan to address the crisis, yet it is levying residents for a non-existent service.
She added that council should stop charging huge figures when it is not supplying water to residents.
“I think it’s very unfair for residents to continue paying for a service that they are not getting. If council is serious about billing water they should cut from the estimated 20 cubic to 5 cubic litres until the water situation has improved. With the current cholera outbreak, residents fear for their lives because there is no water and it seems the local authority have no plan at all,” said Chikumbo.
Chiredzi Town Council does not have a water works and its bulk water is being treated by Tongaat Hullet’s Hippo Valley Estates, which is a kilometre away from town. The local authority is charged for the service, but it is always in arrears.
Jonathan Shonhiwa, the Chiredzi Ratepayers and Residents Association chairperson, said Hippo Valley is pumping 10 megalitres of water daily, which is enough to supply every tap in Chiredzi daily, but no water is reaching Chiredzi, with the larger part of the town going for years without the precious liquid. He said council should not continue billing residents on the basis of estimates. In any case, most locals rely on borehole water.
“The water issue is now a big problem in Chiredzi and Hippo Valley is saying it is pumping 10 megalitres a day, but to our surprise nothing amounting to 10 megalitres is coming to residents. Something is amiss since we are not aware of the destination of that water. We are now fed up with the water shortage and CTC [Chiredzi Town Council] is not coming up with solutions and long-term plans, especially when Chiredzi has been declared a hotspot for cholera. We call upon our councillors to look at the qualifications of our engineers since we are now suspecting that they are the ones who are incompetent,” said Shonhiwa.
Chiredzi West MP Farai Musikavanhu said he has always urged the town council to find a solution and increase the capacity of the water works so that it can cope with the increasing demand for water since the population is growing.
He said working with his partners and using personal resources he is supplying cholera hotspots in the town with 80 000 litres of water per day as a measure to reduce the risk of cholera.
Acting town secretary Wesley Kauma told The NewsHawks that the water problem in Chiredzi is now a crisis which needs all stakeholders to come together and find solutions.
He said the crisis is being worsened by power cuts which are reducing the pumping period and his local authority has allowed other stakeholders to supply residents with clean water through water bowsers as well as the use of boreholes to avert a bigger crisis.