By Nyaradzo Bakari
With no end in sight to Bulawayo’s water shortages, Pumula Old residents, who have gone for more than two weeks without water, have found themselves paying to gain access to the commodity from a nearby borehole.
The city has been battling water shortages as its reservoirs and supply dams have gone beyond critical.
Bulawayo City Council recently introduced a five day water shedding schedule to manage levels of consumption by citizens but this has seen some parts of the city not getting water at all.
This has raised fears among residents as the country is fighting against a deadly virus (Covid-19) which requires people to constantly wash hands and practise personal hygiene.
Due to these water shortages, Pumula Old residents who do not happen to have boreholes in the community are forced to walk three kilometres to Robert Sinyoka village (a peri-urban area near Pumula suburb), where they are asked to pay $1 per container to access water.
Pumula Old residents who spoke to this Publication said they are forced to comply and pay to get water from the borehole because their lives depend on water.
“We have not been getting water for weeks now. At first we would go to neighbours who have water and ask to fill our containers but now these neighbours cannot continue helping us because of accumulating rates so we are forced to go to a borehole which is about three kilometres from our houses. We do not have our own boreholes hence we go to Robert Sinyoka village to get water,” said Sinini Sengweni.
“These people make us pay to fetch water because they claim they will need money to repair the borehole when it breaks down. There’s nothing we can do but to pay because we need water to cook, bath, wash our hands as advised and wash clothes. It’s a very sad situation we are in because we have to pay city council rates yet we do not use city council water and at the same time pay for each container we carry to get water from the borehole. Money that would have been meant to help my family with food and other things is now channelled towards water because it’s a need.”
Ropafadzo Gwatiza another resident said queues to access water from the borehole or City Council bowsers were too long and disorderly, exposing them to the risk of contracting corona virus.
“I am really worried about our health considering we shouldn’t be in crowded places to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The water queues we find ourselves in daily are too risky, people will be scrambling for water and there is always direct contact to each other which is not recommended especially as we are trying to fight the virus.
“Another thing that really worrying about the borehole is that the borehole itself is not sanitised, different hands hold the handle and I doubt some people remember to wash their hands thoroughly when they are from fetching water so this increases the chances of spreading the virus yet we claim to be fighting against it. City Council should make sure the bowsers come more often so that people can get water easily and try to stay safe because very soon we will also be fighting against diseases like cholera if nothing is done to address this water issue. They should also give us a clear timetable of when and what time the water bowser comes so that we are always ready when it comes.”
Ward 17 Councillor, Sikhululekile Moyo said she was not aware that residents are made to pay to get water.
She said she will investigate the matter and discuss with Robert Sinyoka village chairperson.
“This is news to me. I haven’t gotten such a report. All I know is the borehole had been broken down and was only fixed a few weeks ago when residents put together funds so get it repaired. This borehole mainly serves to assist Robert Sinoka residents at a time the city is dealing with water shortages, I am not sure what Pumula residents have been experiencing in their engagement with them but I will investigate the matter.