BPRA implores Mnangagwa to declare Byo water crisis a national emergency

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has appealed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa to treat Bulawayo’s dire water situation with the urgency it deserves.

The call from the residents association follows a request made by Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in January to the government to declare Bulawayo a water shortage area.

In a bid to conserve its remaining water supply levels, which currently stand at 31 percent, the local authority has increased its water-shedding hours from 108 hours to 120 hours per week. 

In a letter to the Office of the President and Cabinet, BPRA Coordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said the water crisis is a critical issue that if not properly addressed might culminate in a calamity.

Ndlovu stated that the city faces perennial water challenges since most of the supply dams were built before independence, before the city’s population ballooned. 

“The city population has tremendously outgrown the supply capacity of these dams and siltation and the obtaining adverse climatic conditions of this ecological region have also exacerbated the situation,” said Ndlovu.

“Section 77 (a) of the constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013 entrenches the right to every citizen to safe, clean and potable water and further saddles the state in peremptory language to take reasonable legislative and other measures within the limits of resources available to it to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.”

Ndlovu said the local authority has done everything within the limits of its resources, including engaging the government, to ensure adequate water supply to the residents, but to no avail.

“On the 10th of January this year, long before the threat of COVID-19 became real, Bulawayo City Council wrote a letter to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement requesting the ministry to declare the City of Bulawayo a Water Shortage area as well as the possible extension of the Nyamandlovu Aquifer as a water supply source managed by council,” Ndlovu noted.

“From the time the letter was written, the situation has gotten worse, more so with the pandemic upon us. In its submission, council mentioned the critically low levels of water in the major supply dams and the cruel water-shedding regime that it has subjected Bulawayo residents to, in order to conserve the scarce water in its remaining supply dams.”

Ndlovu brought to the attention of the President that BCC announced that some areas in Nkulumane and Pumula will not be receiving water until the next rainy season.

He said in a bid to cushion residents during this COVID-19 pandemic, BCC has done its level best to avail water bowsers at critical water points.

“While this will assist in the interim, BPRA foresees a possible disaster if the situation is not immediately addressed,” he said.

Ndlovu described the current five-day water rationing as tragic in the face of the ravaging pandemic and other potential sanitary related diseases.

“It is against this background that as BPRA we pray that your esteemed office proactively declares the City’s woes a national disaster. We feel that if this situation is not promptly addressed it may trigger undesirable outcomes, not to mention the loss of precious human lives. We feel this is a critical matter that requires your urgent attention.”

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)

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