BY CHENGETO CHIDI
GOVERNMENT in a bid to arrest a loom health disaster has moved to arrest a tipping national water shortage crisis which is haunting almost all water authorities by releasing a of $72.3 million in local currency for water treatment chemicals.
In a press statement released today finance minister Mthuli Ncube said the government was releasing the money to avert the re-emergence of water borne diseases which include Cholera, typhoid which has pulverised the nation in the past.
“If left unchecked, there is a real threat of the re-emergence of water borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, which caused untold suffering for our people,” said Ncube.
The country already grappling with fuel, electricity and drugs shortages faces a water crisis of massive proportions with millions of people in Harare, Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Norton facing a real risk of running dry of potable water.
Ncube in releasing the money through a press statement put the blame on local authorities whom he accused of failing to invest in infrastructure.
“Lack of investments by councils towards maintenance and rehabilitation of infrastructure assets has resulted in high water loses along the distribution networks with some local authorities such as Harare, Chitungwiza and Mutare having water loses of up to 60 percent. Additionally, most council are failing to collect billed amounts from residents, and hence, have accumulated huge bills for water treatment chemicals, which has resulted in suppliers suspending services,” he said.
The money will be used to sink boreholes in the cities, sewer rehabilitation and procurement of water treatment chemicals.
Harare which is owed close to a billion by residents, business and government has said the major crisis is caused by shortages of foreign currency and the unstable exchange rate which has left its coffers empty as they try to chase the greenback.
In the clearest sign yet that government is swimming at the deep end without a life jacket, Ncube has called for support from stakeholders involved, with the government promising to continually intervene where the need arises
“It should be noted that the path to recovery of critical infrastructure assets within local authorities will take time, resources and effort by all parties. I therefore call upon all concerned stakeholders to harness their energies and contribute towards this important effort.”