Harare water crisis deepens

HARARE – Harare’s water crisis is set to continue for much longer, after the City Council (HCC) missed the deadline for the refurbishment of its biggest water treatment plant — Morton Jaffray — which has now been extended by nine more months due to a funding crisis.

This comes as most suburbs and companies in the perennially thirsty capital city are set to endure yet another dry weekend, as city fathers carry out another one of their familiar “maintenance works”, this time at the Warren Control station.

Initially, HCC had anticipated that the refurbishment of the Morton Jaffray works would be completed at the end of last March.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, HCC director for water, Hosea Chisango, confirmed that the completion of Morton Jaffray had been delayed by delays in the disbursement of funds.

“Though the works that are left are small, we have given the contractor until December this year to complete the whole refurbishment of MJ (Morton Jaffray).

“What we want is for MJ to be completed, and then we can look at other treatment works, such as Warren Control.

“The delays were because there was a time when the contractor stopped working due to disbursement delays. The money has not yet been released, but we are going ahead with work.

“We, however, expect the work to be completed by August or September, and those works that were done manually should be automated by then also,” Chisango told the Daily News.

“We decided that for now our priority should be the completion of MJ, before we can start with the small plants, since it is the main treatment works,” he added.

Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said the city could only guarantee an increase in water supply when Morton Jaffray was commissioned.

“However, our distribution network needs a lot of work because it is extremely old.

“Harare water is a huge problem because we are dealing with an infrastructure deficit of between 30 and 40 years, which we are trying to catch up to. Unfortunately that cannot be done in one year,” Manyenyeni said.

HCC expects a fully-refurbished MJ to reduce physical water losses by 72 million litres per day, increase the city’s supply coverage to 72 000 households, reduce non-revenue water by 25 percent and increase revenue by about $21,6 million a year.

The city fathers have been battling a serious water crisis for years now due to old infrastructure, which has seen the council failing to meet residents’ full demand.

HCC requires a total of 800 mega litres a day to meet its demand, but the city is currently only able to pump 450 mega litres, prompting authorities to introduce water rations in many areas.

As one of its measures to have a grip on the water crisis, HCC is mulling a full-scale roll-out of water inflow limiters, to compel residents to conserve the scarce resource.

Apart from refurbishing Morton Jaffray and Prince Edward water works, HCC also requires $178 million to fund its water pipe replacement and network rehabilitation exercise, to avoid losses due to burst pipes and illegal connections.

Harare city has a distribution network of 5 500 kilometres of pipe network, which is linked to 15 booster pump stations, 28 reservoir sites and 200 000 customer connection points.

Meanwhile, many households and companies will again have dry taps this weekend, after the council said it was shutting down Warren Control from yesterday until tomorrow, to enable maintenance works.

The maintenance works will affect Msasa, Hatfield, Greendale, Workington, Graniteside, Mabvuku and Tafara, HCC said in a notice yesterday.

The city is fighting its worst water crisis in history, as thousands of households have spent almost 18 years without water due to broken and antiquated equipment and infrastructure. – Daily News

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