THE Bulawayo City Council last week stopped pumping water from Inyankuni Dam hardly a month after decommissioning Upper Ncema and this has left the water supply situation in a precarious position.
Bulawayo has endured perennial water shortages for decades now and the decommissioning of Inyakuni might not have surprised many because it is now a familiar story.
The city is left with three out of five dams – Insiza, Lower Ncema and Umzingwane – Mtshabezi Dam as the only available sources of surface water supply.
However, the silver lining is that the city’s water-shedding schedule remains unchanged. Council says remaining dams have an average of 43,1% of usable water and the city’s reservoirs are still holding a substantial amount of water, with a combined total of 742,06 megalitres out of a designed total capacity of 1 800 megalitres.
Thousands of households in the city go for days without water and the situation has become more unbearable in areas such as Cowdray Park where households do not have running water, as the local authority is yet to service the neighbourhood.
Former Water Resources minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo did a lot during his four-and-half-years in the inclusive government to tackle Bulawayo’s water crisis by resuscitating the moribund Matabeleland Water Zambezi Water Project.
He also worked hard to push for the completion of the pipeline linking Mtshabezi Dam to Bulawayo’s water supply system despite delays caused by limited funding.
It could have been a blessing in disguise that the decommissioning of Inyankuni happened during the same week that President Robert Mugabe unveiled his new Cabinet.
Former Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere was unveiled as the new minister in charge of water and there is no doubt a lot is expected from him. In his previous portfolio, Kasukuwere became well known for his aggression.
It is our hope that he has not lost that touch and he will take over from where Sipepa Nkomo left.
There is no denying that Bulawayo’s case is not peculiar when it comes to challenges around water supplies, but it is also true that residents of this city have been left to endure this problem for far too long and Kasukuwere needs to give the crisis the first priority.