UMGUZA Rural District Council (URDC) has started drilling boreholes in wards where 11 000 families are at risk of poisoning due to the discharge of raw sewer into rivers by Bulawayo City Council.
The situation is so serious that the government set up a task force to probe the matter and was supposed to present its findings to an inter-ministerial committee tasked with investigating the pollution disaster in Bulawayo and Harare on Thursday.
Efforts to get a comment from Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday to ascertain whether the taskforce had presented the findings were fruitless as his mobile phone was unreachable.
However, Umguza chief executive officer Collen Moyo on Friday confirmed that his council had started drilling boreholes in the wards.
“We are drilling five boreholes per ward. Of course there are some dry holes that add up to the costs, the dry ones are not counted. We just have to have each ward with five working boreholes,” he said.
Chombo told the media in Harare on Wednesday that the government had dispatched a team of experts to Umguza on the outskirts of Bulawayo on May 6 to carry out a detailed study of water quality on the impact of the contaminated water on the agricultural activities and inhabitants within the Umguza area.
He said the council had commandeered borehole drilling equipment to sink five boreholes per ward in the affected areas.
Chombo said Bulawayo was discharging raw sewer into water bodies, but efforts were being made to address the situation
“To this end, council had proposed to carry out works that will stop pollution of Khami Dam and Umguza River,” he was quoted saying.
“However, on May 13 2014 , the City of Bulawayo unveiled the project borrowing power applications to 17 potential financiers who are willing to partner council in its borrowing power of $13 261 million for sewer rehabilitation and upgrading.”
Chombo said councils were among major polluters through the discharge of raw sewage directly into water bodies and environment.