New Bulawayo Water Restrictions; President Intervenes

18 May 2020 by Staff - Water Diplomat
Harare, Zimbabwe

The President of Zimbabwe has intervened in the water shortage crisis engulfing the country’s second city of Bulawayo. Emmerson Mnangagwa said last week that the water problems must be addressed “as a matter of urgency” following an announcement by Bulawayo City Council (BCC) that residents will now receive running water only once a week.

BCC said 15 May that it had decommissioned its third supply dam, Lower Ncema, making it the third to be decommissioned after Upper Ncema and Umzingwane dams. The development leaves Insiza, Inyankuni and Mtshabezi dams supplying the city with 94 megalitres (ML) of water per day against the daily average demand of 155 ML. The reduced water supply has necessitated a 144-hour weekly water shedding programme.

"The City of Bulawayo would like to advise members of the public that the city is currently experiencing challenges with the supply and availability of raw water due to low storage in its supply dams and the decommissioning of Lower Ncema with effect from Friday, 15 May 2020. Drawing of raw water from the remaining dams of Insiza, Mtshabezi and Inyankuni has resulted in reduced abstraction and to that effect, Council will introduce a 144 – hour weekly shedding programme - with effect from Monday, 18 May 2020”, according to a statement from the authority.

Bulawayo 24 reported 18 April that independent engineers hired by government to assess the water situation in Bulawayo have disputed council position that the city was facing an acute water crisis, arguing instead that the city lacked capacity to pump the resource from the available water bodies, telling a government delegation that the three remaining supply dams, namely Insiza Mayfair, Inyankuni and Mtshabezi, had enough water to last 14 months.

In late April the Bulawayo City Council blamed the city’s water crisis on the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), accusing the agency of being slow in implementation of a number of planned water supply projects. At that time Bulawayo's dams were at 31 percent capacity.