A DEADLY WATER CRISIS IN BULAWAYO !
- 25/9/2007 <--Prev : Next-->
A DEADLY WATER CRISIS IN BULAWAYO !
I do not think anyone can really understand the seriousness of Bulawayo's water problems,
until they see for themselves one of the queues at the water bowsers, like the one in
Emakandeni on Saturday.
We drove past an Ingwebu Bowser at 2 p.m. The queue snaked across the bare sandy
soccer field, like a lazy boa constrictor. Women, men and children were walking towards
the field from every which way. Hundreds of them, thousands of them. Each carrying as
large a bucket as one could possibly carry.
Ingwebu Breweries was once a popular Bulawayo City Council beer outlet. The Council
boasted a number of Beer Tankers which would deliver copious quantities of the popular
thick rich potent liquid to beer halls across the city.
Now the tankers carry something much more precious, - water - destined for the City's
high density suburbs, where there is no water at all, for days on end.
Beer sales have come to an end, largely because the people can no longer afford this
luxury but mainly because the City's five supply dams have all but dried up, and without
the bowser water deliveries, people would simply die of thirst.
Bulawayo has a population of one and a half million people. It is not a rural village, it is a
large sophisticated industrial, city with sophisticated water needs.
It is possibly a blessing that the City's industry and economy is virtually at a standstill
since the price freeze two months ago, as there is not enough water to quench the thirst
of the people, let alone quench any sort of heavy industrial thirst.
Water supplies have dried up to twice a week in the eastern suburbs, to almost a trickle in
other suburbs like Tshabalala where bore-holes have been drilled by the European Union,
and pumps have been installed. However water supplies are just non existent in suburbs
like Emakandeni, Nketa, and Nkulumane.
On our way back past the Ingwebu Bowser some three hours later, we saw the most
incredible sight. The bowser had gone for re-filling, but there snaking across the dusty
playing field, like a giant anaconda, was a bucket snake. A solemn queue of buckets,
placed neatly in line, like tiny round colourful cars in a fuel queue.
There must be honour amongst buckets as few of them were manned, over a kilometre of
blue, yellow, red and green buckets, waiting patiently, neatly, thirstily for the Ingwebu
The line at the Tshabalala pumps were as long if not longer. Swarms of children would
happily volunteer to man the pumps ....... up down up down, water gushing into buckets,
containers, drums and pots. The line of women swaying with that elegant balancing gait,
to and from the pumps was endless, disappearing into the distance, as the pumps are few
and far between.....
I wondered sadly, as I drove back to my haven in the Eastern Suburbs, where our borehole
is prolific if unpalatable, if the water from the bowsers tasted of beer ?
I also wondered how these folk were managing to flush their toilets..... . The majority of the
people of the City of Bulawayo live in the western areas where there is no water at all
coming out of the taps, and none at all to flush down the sewers ......
Twenty litres per family per day, for drinking, bathing, washing, and cooking is surely
hardly enough to maintain even the slightest semblance of hygiene.
Our life expectancy has dropped sharply since "Independence" from 65 to 39 years !!
Can you imagine the awful, terrible havoc this lack of water is going to cause amongst a
people already weakened by HIV AIDS, lack of proper nutrition, and right now. lack of food
of any sort at all, since the government crackdown on prices.?