Monday, September 20, 2021
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Masvingo pumps ‘untreated’ water for Masvingo

Bushmead Water Works
…officials
watch as chemicals store gets empty

…city
engineer’s job hangs on the balance

…council
risks lawsuit from affected residents

Moses Ziyambi

City
of Masvingo recently pumped half treated water to residents after staff in the
engineering department negligibly watched as one of the critical water
purification chemicals in the stores run out, TellZim News can report.
From
the last days of November 2019, TellZim News has been investigating the cause
of the decline in municipal water quality.
Many
residents contacted claimed that on many incidences from the end of November,
municipal water had failed to convincingly pass the eye test as it had done in
the past
Information
at hand shows that the city’s engineering department slept on the job and
deliberately ignored as aluminium sulphate supplies in the stores dwindled.
To
get to the bottom of the matter, council has since formed a commission of
enquiry made up of all departmental deputy heads whose findings are expected to
be tabled any time this month.
In water purification processes, aluminium
sulphate is used as a coagulant which causes suspended impurities to coagulate
into larger particles and then settle to the bottom of the clarifying tanks to
be filtered out more easily through a process called backwashing.
At
the end of November, senior city managers and councillors were taken by
surprise when they were informed that at least a day’s water supplies had been
pumped half treated as aluminium sulphate had run out of stock.
Shocked
and disappointed, acting town clerk Edward Mukaratirwa rushed to the Zimbabwe
National Water Authority (Zinwa) where he borrowed three tonnes of the chemical
as part of emergency measures to avert a full-blown crisis.
Under
normal circumstances, the city procures the chemical from Chemplex Corporation
in Harare.
Meanwhile,
the city had continued to pump inadequately treated water to the residents, but
would at times stop all pumping as the emergency plans were being made.
Sources
said city officials exaggerated the effects of power cuts by the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) for the prolonged stoppages in pumping as
they made frantic efforts to replenish the chemical stores.
“There
is gross incompetence in council especially in the engineering department where
there seems to be a reluctance to take responsibility for anything that goes
wrong. The city engineer (Tawanda Gozo) is particularly underfire as he
continues to preside over the worst performing department. There are
indications that the chemicals debacle was deliberately created as part of
cheap in-house politics, sabotage and point-scoring,” said a close source.
Other
key chemicals that council often uses in water treatment throughout the year
include activated carbon to remove taste and odour, lime for PH correction and
chlorine gas or calcium hypochlorite for disinfection.
Depending
on need, council sometimes uses sodium silicate as a flocculant aid which
densifies unwanted particles.
TellZim
News contacted five of City of Masvingo’s 10 councillors who, speaking on
condition they are not named, all confirmed that council had on some occasions
pumped semi-raw water as ‘some chemicals’ had ran out of stock.
The
rest said they had no finer details about the matter but pointed out that it
was an embarrassing development coming from the ‘same department that often
gives council many problems’.
“It
is disappointing that people could be that negligent. We could have understood
had it been a case of shortage of money to buy the chemicals. The money was
there and people knew our usual suppliers yet they chose to ignore the usual
stock-taking routines for reasons best known to nobody but themselves. We
eagerly await the outcome of the enquiry before we can take measures. What I
can assure you is that it would be a gross dereliction of duty on our part as
councillors if heads do not roll,” said one councillor.
Another
one said it was high time council took stern measures against acts of gross
negligence by council employees.
“We
hear that some people are mobilising each other to sue council. That would be
costly to us and the only recourse would be for some people to go home. We
cannot continue paying people who deliberately put residents’ lives at risk,”
said the councillor.
When
contacted for comment, Mayor Collen Maboke professed ignorance of the debacle,
saying no report of such error of omission had reached his desk.
“Nothing
of that sort has reached my office. If it indeed happened, it probably then all
happened behind my back,” said Maboke.
On
the town clerk borrowing chemicals from Zinwa, Maboke said council and the
water authority had a working relationship allowing them to lend each other
chemicals in times of need.
However,
when Mukaratirwa himself was contacted for comment, he hesitantly confirmed the
debacle and said disciplinary procedures were in progress.
“We
had to take emergency measures to contain the situation. Disciplinary processes
are happening and we would not have wanted this to be in the media
prematurely,” said Mukaratirwa.
He
made assurances that the city now had enough chemicals in stock to meet its
daily requirements.

TellZimNewshttps://tellzim.com
TellZim News is the leading news organization in the Southern region. It provides candid, balanced and timely news from the communities. Keeping it real. Committed to tell Zimbabwe.

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2 COMMENTS

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